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by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

MONTREAL – Supporting the health and well-being of kids is a cause that means a lot to Brendan Gallagher.

In that spirit, the Canadiens’ No. 11 will be leading the charge to raise funds and awareness for the Shriners Hospital for Children – Canada – which just happens to be based in Montreal – by hosting his second annual Celebrity Softball Classic on Saturday, August 13th at Scotiabank Field at Nat Bailey Stadium in Vancouver. In 2015, the event raised over $15,000.

Photo Credit: CJ Relke / Vancouver Giants

Gallagher will once again be joined by a slew of fellow NHL stars, including teammates Nathan Beaulieu and Shea Weber, Milan Lucic, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Mark Scheifele, Josh Gorges, Morgan Rielly, Brandon Prust, Sam Reinhart, and Lance Bouma, along with former pros Paul Reinhart, Dave Babych, and Kyle Wellwood, among others.

With 22 locations across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, Shriners Hospitals for Children provide assistance in the areas of orthopaedics, burn care, spinal cord injury, and cleft lip and palate reconstruction – regardless of a family’s ability to cover the necessary medical costs. And, it currently represents the largest pediatric hospital network in the world.

“It’s good for me to be able to get the opportunity to do this. You’re doing it all for a good cause. I get to go to the Shriners to see the kids a few times a year with it being in Montreal. You understand the situations they’re in and it puts things into perspective. You want to do anything you can to help,” said Gallagher, who is eagerly anticipating the contest at the home of the Toronto Blue Jays’ Class A affiliate – the Vancouver Canadians. “I’ve always had a soft spot for children’s charities. I appreciate the Shriners’ efforts and where their heart is. It’s something that speaks to me.”

In addition to hockey, Gallagher played his fair share of baseball growing up, too. He also played lacrosse, but was forced to give it up at a relatively young age because of the physical nature of the game and the risk of injury. Getting the chance to trade in his skates for a pair of cleats always takes the now 24-year-old right-winger back to his childhood when he spent many nights enjoying all that the game of baseball has to offer.

“Compared to lacrosse, baseball was a good alternative in the summers where I wasn’t at risk to really get hurt and I could go out there and compete and have some fun. I loved to do it. I still like playing in the summers. It’s a fun time to go with some buddies and just mess around on the diamond. It’s a very relaxing game,” explained Gallagher, who recently took part in a local slo-pitch softball tournament in Tsawwassen, BC to get back in the swing of things, so to speak. “It also looks a lot easier than it actually is. We had some pretty embarrassing moments at the charity game last year. It’s something that makes the night even better.”

Gallagher insists a fun, family-friendly atmosphere awaits all those in attendance. With tickets priced at just $5.00 each, the 2016 World Hockey Championship gold medalist is hoping to see people of all ages come out to contribute to a significant cause and spend some time with some of their hockey heroes as well.

“One of the things we’re trying to do with this game is just give the fans a chance to meet a lot of cool NHL players they wouldn’t have the opportunity to in any other situation. We take a lot of pictures and we sign a lot of autographs. We take a lot of time with them throughout the game. It’s a good time for everyone,” mentioned Gallagher, who has fond memories of the inaugural Celebrity Softball Classic, in addition to some of those “embarrassing moments,” of course. “The thing I love about it is seeing the guys come out and enjoying the night and seeing the people in the stands and the fun they’re having. When you have good intentions, you’re going to have a positive experience. It’s all worth it.”

Gallagher on a visit to the Shriners Hospital for Children in Montreal last December.

In the days leading up to the game, Gallagher actually planned on heading out to Nat Bailey Stadium for a batting practice session with the Canadians. That means that he should be primed to light up opposing pitchers when it’s time to step up to the plate on Saturday evening. Needless to say, though, this event is about far more than just going yard and putting up runs.

“It’s just whatever we can do to help. We want to raise as much as we can and do whatever we can do,” concluded Gallagher. “You keep the attention on the most important things, making sure everyone involved at the ballpark has a good experience and a good time for a good cause.”

To purchase tickets for Gallagher’s Celebrity Softball Classic, click here.

Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.

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