It was "Taco Tuesday" at the Ronald McDonald House in Chicago and the Blackhawks wives and girlfriends were determined to provide a delectable meal for families of young patients who are experiencing severe medical challenges.
By staying at the Ronald McDonald House, families are able to remain close to their child who is facing a serious crisis.
"The Blackhawks have been really involved in the Ronald McDonald House since its inception, from moving from Lincoln Park to downtown and being associated with Lurie Children's Hospital," said Ashley Hinton, Blackhawks Director of Community Relations. "Duncan Keith sponsors a transplant floor here at the Ronald McDonald House through his foundation. And the Blackhawks alumni also have a playroom dedicated to the association. We help out with multiple events they have here throughout the year."
Preparing or arranging for a meal is the last thing an overwhelmed family should have to worry about during this challenging period. The collection of Blackhawks wives and girlfriends worked seamlessly to prepare a scrumptious lunch.
"We all get along very well. So that helps," said Maureen Kunitz, wife of veteran Blackhawks left winger Chris Kunitz. "We're all on board with the idea of what Ronald McDonald stands for. We're happy to help and ease the burden on these families that are already going through so much. It is something small that we can do for the day and hopefully make a bigger impact in the long run."
Tuesday's event took place at the Ronald McDonald House located at 211 East Grand in Chicago. Maureen Kunitz was designated as the captain of the volunteer cooking crew.
"Being Tuesday, we opted for the 'Taco Tuesday.' We did like a rotisserie-type chicken and some ground beef tacos, which typically would be a kid's fan favorite. We made a homemade black-bean recipe that is really tasty and some Spanish rice and the regular toppings to go along with it," she said.
The Blackhawks wives and girlfriends appeared genuinely moved by the appreciative reactions of families and young patients who sampled their meal. And the Blackhawks organization takes special pride in its association with the Ronald McDonald House.
"We usually try to cook at least once a year, whether it is in the cooking factory or over here (in the kitchen), making a meal, either lunch or dinner," Hinton said. "Today we have almost all of the girls out who were able to take time out from their busy schedules and help make a meal for the families.
"Maureen Kunitz has divided up jobs and split everyone into groups. It has gone really well. The girls are great and they all work together. Everyone has her own task and it kind of comes together as a collective team here at the end."
Kunitz compared the camaraderie of the Blackhawks wives and girlfriends to the teamwork needed by the players on the ice.
"It is definitely a team effort altogether," she said. "It's nice to have events like this where you can work as a team on the wive's end, just to get a little bit closer. Things just kind of happen organically from that point on. But we all have the same end goal, hoping to be a successful team and be a successful group and get along and have a fun time while we are doing it."
Kunitz, a mother of three, said she feels a personal connection to the families who were being served.
"Just being a parent, this is something that hits a little bit closer to home. And helping out in the community is something we strive to do all the time," she said.