When Kyle Palmieri was a young player in The NHL, he saw first hand the impact of players creating charities and foundations to give back to the community. Those experiences helped him think about creating his own foundation one day.
"I had it when I was young in the league and watching guys like Ryan Getzlaf, was one of the guys where his foundation has done so much work," said Palmieri. "That's one of the things that inspire you to maybe one day cross that bridge and start that program."
Fast forward to 2020, and the Kyle Palmieri Foundation has spent the last four years giving back to the military and veteran communities throughout the state of New Jersey. Palmieri first started his charitable efforts with Squad21 in 2016, and now through the Kyle Palmieri Foundation, he partners with different organizations that benefit veterans, active military members, and their families. Through this, the Foundation is able to highlight, support, and drive financial donations to these established groups.
Video: COMMUNITY | Kyle Palmieri Gives Back
"You keep growing and keep shedding light on some of the challenges that face our military and their families," said Palmieri on how he sees his Foundation continuing their impact. "Raising money is a big part of it…but at the same time, I think inspiring people to sit back and reflect and realize the sacrifice that our military and their families make to keep us safe."
Every year, the Kyle Palmieri Foundation also throws its annual Military Ball to help raise money for the Foundation and continue awareness.
"Everyone had a great time and coming out and supporting our military and their families. That's what we were dreaming about when we started the Foundation," said Palmieri. "That event is a lot of hard work but it was so much fun and so rewarding to be able to give that money back to these organizations that we work with."
Giving back to the New Jersey community is extra special for the Devils forward. Palmieri grew up in Bergen County and is proud to represent his state and inspire the growth of hockey as a New Jersey native.
"It's a huge honor for me, being from here and seeing the impact, whether it be the impact on youth hockey and then seeing how much that's grown, and the programs that the Devils have set up," said Palmieri. "As a kid, there weren't a ton of guys coming out of New Jersey and there were a couple of guys you can sit there and look up to, but now these kids are finding ways to make their own stories and that's what hockey is all about."
With the Devils roster skewed on the younger side, Palmieri and other veterans who have charitable initiatives will help inspire the next set of community outreach, as Getzlaf did for Palmieri at the start of his career.
"I think guys as they get more comfortable and grow a little bit older, they find things that really mean a lot to them and whether its something like youth hockey or helping the Boys and Girls Clubs," said Palmieri. "It's awesome to see guys get inspired and find a way to give back and use their status or their platform to make a difference and make an impact on people's lives. [It's] what it's all about."