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Community: 1 Hat Trick, 500 Hats, 3 Hospitals

by Kristina Boyce / Carolina Hurricanes

No one would have thought that Eric Staal’s hat trick during the April 8, 2010, game would impact the community, but it did. 

Kristina Boyce
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During that game, the first 14,000 fans received a Carolina Hurricanes hat courtesy of Chevrolet. When Staal scored his third goal, over 500 brand new hats were thrown on the ice in celebration. Staal was able to choose the end recipient of the hats - children at our local hospitals.

Click here for a photo gallery of the three hospital visits 

On August 11, 2010, Stormy and two members from the Eye Care Associates Storm Squad gave out over 350 hats to the child outpatient clinics and staff at UNC Children’s Hospital and Duke Children’s Hospital. Stormy and the Storm Squad then made rounds at each hospital to visit inpatient rooms. The inpatients we visited are currently in the hospital for a longer period of time.

It was amazing to hear the stories from the families and see the strength in each child we met. We met a little boy who was recently diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. It was his first time meeting Stormy and he was thrilled. His mom explained that they had been in the hospital for four weeks and he had gone through his first rounds of chemotherapy. She said that Stormy’s visit meant so much to their family and brought pure joy to her son.

We also met family friends of a little girl who had a broken leg. They shared with us that the girl was in a car accident last weekend with her dad and brother. Her brother was still in the ICU and her dad had passed away. Her visit with Stormy and the Storm Squad was the first time she had smiled all week.

Our final visit was to Rex Hospital on Monday, August 16. Stormy and members of the Eye Care Associates Storm Squad made the rounds at Rex, visiting patients in the pediatric wing. We made a stop in the Carolina Hurricanes Pediatric Playroom to play with some of the children. We donated over 100 hats to the patients and staff at Rex Hospital.

The children we met are currently facing more at their young age than most of us will face in a lifetime. They are in the hospital day in and day out. Some of the children have to lie in bed all day, go through painful treatments and wonder if they are ever going to be back in school with their friends. A Carolina Hurricanes hat and a visit from our beloved mascot and Storm Squad was able to brighten their day; even if it was just for a minute.

Thank you to Eric Staal, Chevrolet, UNC Children’s Hospital, Duke Children’s Hospital and Rex Hospital for making these visits possible. It might just be a hat that was given out at the door coming in to a Hurricanes game to most people, but to the patients and staff we met at the hospitals, it was a reason to smile.

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