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Shaun White Goes For Gold

Shaun White Surprises Two Fans with Hugs at Halfpipe Event

Olympic champion Shaun White is showing off his heart of gold.

The American snowboarder — moments after qualifying for the halfpipe final Tuesday — took a detour for an unsuspecting meet-and-greet with two spectators in the crowd.

He jumped over the barriers to give high-fives and hugs to 10-year-old Ben Hughes of St. Louis and 19-year-old Kaitlyn Lyle, an undergrad at the University of Alabama, according to The Washington Post.

The pair was in Russia thanks to the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Both of them wanted to get a glimpse of the red-headed snowboarding superstar, but didn't expect White would personally greet them at Sochi.

Ben Hughes was diagnosed with leukemia four years ago and is currently cancer-free. His mom, Liz Hughes, told NBC affiliate KSDK in St. Louis that he got up early Tuesday to see White in the qualifying halfpipe round, arriving two hours before the start of the event.

“Let’s just put it this way, last night, Ben could not sleep,” Liz Hughes said.

Lyle, before meeting her hero, said that White helped motivate her during her rare bone cancer diagnosis. She's currently cancer-free.

“I was hospitalized all of February in 2010 and watching Shaun helped me get through that time in my life,” Lyle told The Post. “My goal is to leave here as Mrs. Shaun White. OK, maybe not. But it would be cool to meet him.”

Lyle and Hughes were starstruck when White came up to them, and it took a moment for the experience to set in.

“This can’t be happening,” Hughes said, according to USA Today. “This is super awesome.”

— Erik Ortiz