By BRENNA GRITEMAN
“Isn’t it something,” marvels Weldon “Weldy” Olson in recounting the unlikely tale of how his custom-made hockey stick walking cane made its way back into his hands two days before Christmas.
The 87-year-old Olympian says he had given up hope that his cane — personalized with his name “Olson” and the dates “1956-1960” — would ever be returned. Olson was on the U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team that won a silver medal in 1956 and a gold — America’s very first in hockey — in 1960.
The cane was a gift from Olson’s son, and was accidentally left in a shopping cart at Lowe’s on Dec. 10, 2018.
Findlay police issued a request in locating the missing cane on Dec. 17 of that year, to no avail. So the company issued a replica cane for Olson, who thought it was case closed for the story.
Just over a year later, on Dec. 23, 2019, Matt Fix of Findlay was headed into the Tiffin Avenue Walmart to pick up some last-minute groceries for a Christmas gathering when he spotted the missing cane in the back window of the car he’d parked next to. Fix and Olson don’t know each other, but Fix recalled the police department’s Facebook post (“I have a pretty random memory,” he admits) and could clearly read the name “Olson” on the cane.
Just to be sure, he looked up the department’s post from a year prior, then gave them a call.
“It wasn’t that person’s to have. It was customized for him,” Fix says of Olson’s cane.
“I just wanted to see it get back where it belongs.”
Olson says officers called and asked him to come identify the cane, and “sure enough, there it was in the back window.”
He even placed his replacement cane next to it, “and of course it was exactly the same.”
The woman driving the car housing the cane gladly returned the item and said the car belonged to her mother-in-law. Olson says he decided not to press charges, but chose to instead take comfort in the small miracle made possible by a stranger’s eagle eye.
Now, he says, he has one cane for use at home and another for outings.
Olson grew up in Marquette, Michigan, in the state’s Upper Peninsula.
“I’m the youngest of nine hockey-playing brothers,” he says, noting that his Olympic career was “60 years ago already.”
He and his wife, Helen — “she was the girl next door” — are also celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary.