The 2019-20 season truly was a banner-raising year, both on and off the ice.
Thanks to the support of Blues fans, players and alumni - as well as community and corporate partners - Blues for Kids donated a record $1.47 million to a combined 125 local, youth-focused nonprofits in the St. Louis area.
It was the third consecutive year in which Blues for Kids was able to donate more than $1 million to its core areas of giving, which are cancer care and awareness, education, health and wellness and youth hockey development.
In addition to financial support, Blues for Kids also partnered with local community and corporate partners to both develop and implement programs that fill needs and provide experiences to children living in underserved communities or to those battling life-threatening illnesses.
Video: Blues team up with Ashley Homestore to donate beds
Being a Blue has always meant more than entertaining fans on the ice - it also means giving back to the community, and the St. Louis Blues have proven to be champions in that area, too.
Here are just some of the ways the Blues - and Blues for Kids - have given back to the community in new ways in the past season:
These programs, events and more, helped bring the sport of hockey to thousands of new fans and opened the doors to hundreds of new players, truly proving that Hockey is for Everyone.
Below is an in-depth look at some of 2019-20's biggest initiatives:
Before training camp even began in 2019, Blues players and coaches traded their sticks for golf clubs and hit the links with fans and corporate partners in the Blues for Kids Golf Classic. The event raised more than $200,000 for Blues for Kids - the most in its history.
When the calendar turned to 2020, the players worked as celebrity dealers in blackjack, roulette and craps at the team's annual Casino Night at Enterprise Center, raising $150,000 to benefit St. Louis Children's Hospital.
Video: Players, Alumni tee off at Golf Classic
HEALTH AND WELLNESS
In October, Blues players, coaches and their Better Halves continued the tradition of transforming Stifel Theatre into a haunted house by inviting patients from St. Louis Children's Hospital and underserved communities to the coolest Halloween event of the year. The children, who typically would be unable to trick-or-treat, were treated to a pizza party, enjoyed Halloween decorating stations and went trick-or-treating with their favorite Blues players, their families and staff.
During the holiday season, Blues players hit the fashion runways with children battling cancer to raise money for Friends of Kids with Cancer. In addition, players dropped by all of St. Louis' local children's hospitals to visit patients and bring gifts, including Blues Build-a-Bears, autographed pucks and smiles.
Later, the Blues and Ashley HomeStore invited 100 school-aged children from the Boys and Girls Club of Greater St. Louis and Matthews-Dickey to Enterprise Center to surprise them with new beds, pillows and comforters that were delivered to their homes. For most of the children, this was the first bed they could call their own.
Video: Children trick or treat with Blues at Stifel Theatre
Blues Youth Hockey is committed to making the sport of hockey more affordable and inclusive for children and adults regardless of ability or backgrounds. During the 2019-20 season, the organization saw record highs in participation across all youth hockey programs. The Street Blues Ball Hockey program was implemented in 225 schools, reaching more than 100,000 students. And the Little Blues Learn to Play program at Centene Community Ice Center provided 750 skaters with their first on-ice practices. The Girls Hockey Development League will take the ice at CICC starting this winter.
Continuing an investment in education, more than 120,000 students participated in one of the many Blues educational initiatives, including the Street Blues Ball Hockey Program, Blues Bookworms Program, and the Future G.O.A.L.S STEM curriculum during the 2019-20 school year. All programs were provided to schools and after-school programs at no cost.
In an effort to reach new fans and provide a fun experience for families, the Blues and Wells Fargo teamed up to bring 1,000 kids to their first game through the Wells Fargo First Game program. Children from local organizations like Girls on the Run, LifeBridge Partnership, Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition and Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation received game tickets, a pre-game Hockey 101 session with Blues broadcasters Chris Kerber and Joey Vitale, Blues T-shirts, a First Game certificate and food vouchers.
STANLEY CUP AND ALL-STAR WEEKEND
The 2019-20 season provided unique opportunities as the team won its first-ever Stanley Cup championship and hosted the 2020 NHL All-Star Weekend in St. Louis.
In the summer of 2019, the Stanley Cup toured nearly every neighborhood in St. Louis and was photographed by hundreds of thousands of fans. The Cup was displayed at Jennings Jr. & Sr. High School, St. Louis Area Foodbank, Christian Hospital, St. Louis Children's Hospital, City Academy, Siteman Cancer Center, Matthews-Dickey Boys' & Girls Club, Fire & Police stations, among many other community centers.
To commemorate the beginning of All-Star Weekend, the Blues hosted a luncheon and screening of 'Willie', a story of the NHL's first black hockey player - Willie O'Ree - at the Boys' & Girls' Club Teen Center in Ferguson. The Black Hockey History mobile museum also made its first of four stops that weekend, sharing the story of diversity in hockey with thousands of fans.
90's Mighty R'OR: Providing an unforgettable game experience to young community all-stars from the Greater St. Louis region, including a postgame meet-and-greet with Ryan O'Reilly.
Bouw's Buddies: A suite at each home game for children associated with Ronald McDonald House Charities of St. Louis was provided by Jay Bouwmeester.
Jaden Schwartz and Friends of Kids with Cancer: To honor and remember his sister Mandi, Schwartz invited families that have experienced the loss of a sibling to select Blues home games and met with them after the game.
Petro's Pals: Captain Alex Pietrangelo and Dave Steward, chairman and founder of World Wide Technology, welcome groups from the United Way of Greater St. Louis to each home game.
Program 34: Local first responders are invited to select homes games, followed by a meet-and-greet with Jake Allen.
Ryan's Den: Children and their families who battle life-threatening illnesses or live in underserved communities are invited to enjoy the game from a suite before meeting O'Reilly after the game.
Schenn's Friends: Patients and families from St. Louis Children's Hospital have the opportunity to attend select home games, watch warm-ups from the Blues bench and meet Brayden Schenn after the game.
A special thank you goes out to everyone who has supported Blues for Kids, making all of this possible. We look forward to seeing what 2020-21 brings!