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Capitals Continue Commitment to Community During 2020-21 Season

Despite an unprecedented season that prohibited in-person interaction due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization and its players remained committed to their fans and the power of giving back

by Washington Capitals @Capitals / WashingtonCaps.com

During the 2020-21 season, the Washington Capitals, its players, and Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation (MSE Foundation) continued to give back to the community. Despite an unprecedented season that prohibited in-person interaction due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization and its players remained committed to their fans and the power of giving back. As the 2021-22 season approaches, WashCaps.com takes a look back at highlights:

So Kids Can: So Kids Can members Nicklas Backstrom, Brenden Dillon, Tom Wilson and Elliot in the Morning's Elliot Segal raised funds for Kid Power, Inc during the 2020-21 season. Through So Kids Can, the players and Segal pledged $50 per Capitals win during the regular-season and $100 per win during the playoffs to Kid Power, Inc. Fans were also encouraged to donate at washcaps.com/sokidscan. Kid Power, Inc. inspires youth leadership by promoting academic advancement, physical and emotional wellness, and positive civic engagement in underserved communities throughout the District of Columbia. This season's campaign raised nearly $43,000 for Kid Power, Inc.

Forty Three's Friends: Through his Forty Three's Friends program, Tom Wilson invited 26 children affiliated with Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic and United Heroes League to select any item of their choosing that Wilson then purchased and sent the recipient with a personalized video message. Requested items ranged from pairs of skates and hockey sticks to Lego sets, hiking gear and sneakers. Wilson later met with the children from each organization on Zoom. Wilson created Forty Three's Friends in 2018 and donates tickets to children and families affiliated with Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic and United Heroes League. Postgame, Wilson meets with the families.

Video: 43's Friends | United Heroes League Zoom

Video: 43's Friends | Make-A-Wish Zoom

Dowd's Crowd: A Dowd's Crowd holiday fundraiser, created by Capitals forward Nic Dowd and his wife Paige, raised $8,558 for families of DC Public Schools students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The Dowds, through MSE Foundation, purchased Walmart gift cards for 16 DCPS students with ASD for the holidays. The Dowds created Dowd's Crowd in 2018 to provide the opportunity for children with sensory issues to be able to attend and enjoy a Caps game.

Hath's Heroes: A December Hath's Heroes fundraiser, created by Capitals forward Garnet Hathaway and his wife Lindsay, raised $12,215 through Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation. Proceeds will be used to fund future Hath's Heroes initiatives and programming for first responders in the Washington, D.C., region. The Hathaways launched Hath's Heroes in 2019 to give back to first responders.

Caps at Home Calendar: Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation launched a Caps at Home Calendar that raised nearly $50,000 for MSE Foundation programs. The calendar featured photos of every Capitals player, including family and hobby-related images. All photos for the calendar were provided by the players. The front and back covers of the calendar features select players, along with team dog Captain, on a video call.

Hockey Fights Cancer: The Washington Capitals and Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation's Hockey Fights Cancer auction raised $68,345 for charity. Proceeds benefitted Flashes of Hope, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Mid-Atlantic Region, Make-A-Wish® Mid-Atlantic, and Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. The Capitals annual Hockey Fights Cancer Game presented by Leidos took place March 28 at Capital One Arena. During warmups, players wore lavender warmup jerseys that were auctioned off along with autographed Hockey Fights Cancer pucks and hats.

Virtual Hospital Visit: Capitals players Nicklas Backstrom, John Carlson and Tom Wilson visited virtually with youth patients from MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. During the call, the group played holiday-themed games.

Video: Virtual Holiday Hospital Visit 2020

Blue Star of the Game: The Capitals unveiled a new blue third jersey, in which the color scheme is aligned with the United States of America's flag. Each color also represents attributes displayed by Capitals fans: red stands for dedication, white represents loyalty and blue honors community. During select games the third jersey was worn, the Capitals honored a frontline worker as the team's Blue Star of the Game. The Blue Star of the Game was spotlighted, received a jersey and was an honorary member of the game's starting lineup in honor of their efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Black History Month Initiatives: The Capitals commitment to foster diversity was focused in the three pillars of youth hockey, education and awareness, detailed here. In January, the Capitals announced members of the organization's Black Hockey Committee. The Black Hockey Committee is comprised of community and organization leaders that meet on a consistent basis to address ways to eradicate racism and discuss growing the game in underserved communities. A primary focus is on conducting outreach to local teams and combining resources to educate coaches and parents on how to appropriately handle racial incidents.

The following month, the Capitals wore special black warmup jerseys featuring the Capitals logo and a Players Against Hate end racism shoulder patch during Black History Night. The jerseys, also featuring red ombre lettering and a white stripe, were signed and auctioned off to benefit the Capital Impact Fund.

Capitals players also participated in a virtual event with players from the Fort Dupont Cannons. The virtual visit was in place of an annual player visit to the Fort Dupont Ice Arena to skate with the Cannons. The Capitals have a long-standing relationship with Fort Dupont, having assisted with Fort Dupont's fundraising campaign for a new rink, provided multiple scholarships to Fort Dupont scholar-athletes, and donated equipment to the Cannons.

Video: Fort Dupont Virtual Conversation

Capitals coach Peter Laviolette, Fort Dupont coach Neal Henderson and Stevenson University assistant coach Duante' Abercrombie participated in a Virtual Coaches Panel Presented by Capital One with coaches throughout the region on diversity in hockey and character building. The discussion focused on addressing racism in hockey and how to approach the conversations with players, parents, coaches and rinks. 

Video: BHM | Virtual Coaches Panel on Diversity in Hockey

Go Green Auction: The Washington Capitals wore and auctioned special Go Green warmup jerseys to benefit Leveling the Playing Field (LPF) during the March 19, Capitals game versus the New York Rangers. The auction, which also featured autographed sticks and pucks, raised $82,900 for LPF, which is focused on delivering the opportunity to enjoy the mental and physical benefits of youth sports to underserved children.

Pride Night: The Washington Capitals and Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation's Pride auction featuring autographed player-used sticks wrapped in rainbow-color 'Pride Tape' and rainbow pucks raised $27,460 for SMYAL.

Capitals players wrapped their sticks with Pride Tape for warmups during Capitals Pride Night on April 8 versus the Boston Bruins. Based in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan region, SMYAL (Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders) supports and empowers lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth ages 6-24.

N1KY Auction: The Washington Capitals and Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation N1KY auction presented by Leidos featuring autographed Nicklas Backstrom tribute jerseys and pucks in honor of Backstrom's 1,000th game raised $70,260 for charity.

Capitals players wore the third jerseys featuring the "W" on the front, with Backstrom's number 19 on the back and the alternate captain's "A" on the chest during warmups on April 15 vs. Buffalo in honor of Backstrom's 1,000th career NHL game. Proceeds from the auction benefited So Kids Can beneficiary Kid Power, Inc. and the Washington Capitals Capital Impact Fund.

Military Auction: The Washington Capitals and Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation's Military Auction presented by LIUNA raised $49,820 for Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). The April 29 Capitals vs. Penguins game marked the organization's 19th annual Military Night presented by LIUNA.

Proceeds will be used by TAPS to care for the families of America's fallen heroes. Capitals players Nic Dowd and Nick Jensen participated in a virtual reunion with TAPS families who had attended past Capitals and TAPS events. During the call, the families and players discussed military loved ones and hockey.

ASHA eSports Challenge:The Washington Capitals and Caps Gaming hosted the first-ever American Special Hockey Association (ASHA) eSports Challenge on the Capitals Twitch Channel on June 6. A total of 48 special hockey athletes from 48 cities across the United States and Canada played EA SPORTS™ NHL® 21 in an adaptive virtual tournament that raised $70,000 for ASHA programming. The broadcast saw 143,128 live viewers.

Home Rink: Six-Year-Old Keedysville, MD, resident Dylann Wetzel received a hockey rink in her basement through Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic and the Washington Capitals. Wetzel, a kidney transplant recipient, had her basement transformed into a functioning synthetic ice rink. T.J. Oshie surprised Wetzel with a personal video message as part of the reveal this summer.

Captain Placed with Veteran: In June, America's VetDogs and Capitals service dog in training Captain completed training and was placed with retired U.S. Marine Corps Master Sgt. Mark Gwathmey. The Capitals partnered with America's VetDogs, a New York based non-profit that provides service dogs to veterans and first responders with disabilities, to raise and train service dog Captain in 2019.

Video: Captain Matched With Veteran

Thank a Hero Ecard Campaign: The Capitals created a site for fans to be able to send an ecard with a Capitals player saying a thank you message to show their appreciation for the efforts of essential workers during COVID-19. Occupations included medical staff, first responders, grocery and restaurant workers, teachers, social workers, public transportation and delivery drivers. More than 1,500 ecards were sent. 

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