Compared to some of his teammates, Alexandre Texier wasn't a kid that long ago.
So when the 20-year-old Blue Jackets forward had a chance to step on the Nationwide Arena ice Monday afternoon with 100 local children, he knew the impact his presence at the annual Skate with the Pros event could have.
"It was fun," he said. "When I was a kid, I always wanted to skate with the pros, and now I have to a chance to do it (as a pro). It's huge. It was a big day for young kids. It was just fun to do it, and you skate and talk, take some pictures. It's not a job, it's just fun to go out there and play with the kids and talk and share some experiences about hockey.
"I was really happy to do it."
Judging by the reaction of the kids, Texier was right -- it was a big day for the kids, who won the chance to join the Blue Jackets players on the ice thanks to auctions run by the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation.
As Texier and fellow CBJ players Vladislav Gavrikov, Eric Robinson and Elvis Merzlikins were introduced and stepped onto the ice for the event, they were surrounded by kids for high fives and fist bumps. Throughout the next hour, the players took photos, signed autographs and even played a little hockey with the kids, who ranged from 5 years old to 17.
Some kids were happy just to get pictures and autographs, while others couldn't stop stickhandling around the Nationwide Arena ice or putting pucks in any of the three nets set up throughout the surface.
In all, the event raised more than $15,000 for the CBJ Foundation, which is dedicated to the health and wellness of children in central Ohio. The foundation dedicates time, resources and financial support to organizations making a difference in the areas of pediatric cancer, reading, fitness through play and the growth and development of amateur hockey.