Young Bon Jovi fan meets his idol in Vancouver
Kids today are supposed to go gaga over Justin Bieber or One Direction, not bestselling ’80s rock band Bon Jovi - but no one told six-year-old Kaden Artemenko that.
The Langley boy might possibly be the youngest Bon Jovi fan ever. One listen to It’s My Life on his mom’s cellphone a year ago and the rock anthem has been on perennial repeat in the Artemenko home.
Life has been an uphill battle for Kaden, who was born premature at 25 weeks. He spent the first four months of his life hooked up to a ventilator because his lungs couldn’t breathe on their own. Doctors had diagnosed him with low-tone cerebral palsy, characterized by floppy muscles.
A Bon Jovi concert Wednesday was to be the start of young Kaden Artemenko’s ‘normal’ life.
"I would worry that he wouldn’t know what life was like. I was always worried he would think life was being in an incubator and being poked and prodded," said mom Stevie of her six-year-old son’s early life in and out of hospitals.
"I always told him, ‘When you get out, we’ll go to baseball games. We’ll go see concerts.’" What Kaden got instead was even more spectacular than just a rock show.
After The Province wrote about Kaden’s extraordinary medical battle and his love of ’80s rock anthems earlier this week, a number of generous readers stepped up to offer Kaden tickets to the big show.
A second story about Kaden then caught the eye of Bon Jovi himself, who arranged for a private meet and-greet Wednesday.
"We got to watch a little bit of a sound check and then they took us backstage … and then (Bon Jovi) came out and said, ‘Hey, I saw your picture in the paper today. I hear you like my music,’" Stevie said. "And Kaden was like, ‘Yeah.’ I think he was in awe."
Stevie said the rock star spent time shaking everyone’s hand before chatting more with Kaden - who was wearing a Bon Jovi T-shirt and a black leather jacket - about drumming, and then posing for photos. “He was very gracious and just really down to earth. I still can’t believe it,” Stevie said. “We’re all still kind of in shock.”
Bon Jovi then gave Kaden a guitar pick, a signed set list, a signed copy of Wednesday’s Province, swag bags for each family member filled with T-shirts, hats and souvenir tour programs - and upgraded seats all in a row.
"I’m just really grateful, grateful that Kaden’s with us - that’s the main thing. And that people are so - oh, I’m going to cry again - that people are so empathetic and kind about that," Stevie said. "It means a lot that people would respond that way and want to give to this little person that has been through a lot."
As for getting a start on ‘normal’ life experiences like watching sports games and seeing concerts? “This will be the biggest one of his life,” Stevie said.
Read the full stories:
"Tickets for Bon Jovi concert has special boy, 6, full of joy" by Cheryl Chan, The Province
"It’s his life and this deserving Langley boy will get to see Bon Jovi in concert" by Cheryl Chan, The Province
"Bon Jovi fan awed to meet idol" by Stephanie Ip, The Province