This is my first blog ever, so bear with me.
I’ve only been with the department for 8 weeks, which is more than enough time to witness the impact the Carolina Hurricanes have in the community. Hockey is such a fast paced game that it’s easy to get caught up in the action on the ice (I’m guilty of it. Don’t even get me started on the 6-4 comeback victory against Toronto this past Sunday). But, I would like to give some much deserved attention to a Carolina Hurricanes program that takes place off the ice – Eric’s Entourage.
It’s pretty easy to be an Eric Staal fan. He’s been part of the Hurricanes since day one of his professional career. He’s already leading the team in points this year. And, at the age of 24, he’s already earned the NHL All-Star Game MVP award. But, I’ve witnessed a different side of Eric off the ice that will give you one more reason to be an Eric Staal fan.
This year, Eric, and his wife, Tanya, purchased a 12 person, all-inclusive luxury suite for the 2008-2009 season. Now, you might think, “Eric did just sign one of the most lucrative contracts in Hurricanes history, so he and his family should have a suite.” But, hold that thought. Instead of using it for their own personal use, Eric and Tanya donate this suite to various non-profit children’s organizations to enjoy for the night. The organization in the suite assumes the role of Eric’s Entourage. They receive goody bags full of Carolina Hurricanes treats and, once we get the logo finished, an Eric’s Entourage t-shirt. So far this year, Eric’s Entourage has been filled by deserving children’s organizations including the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Wake Forest Boys & Girls Club, Durham Companions, and Eckerd Youth Alternatives.
This example might paint a better picture for you. This past Sunday was Hockey Fights Cancer night, and one member of Eric’s Entourage during that game was Haidyn Reinhardt. Haidyn is part of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Her dad keeps a journal on her website documenting what’s going on in her life. Instead of speaking for him, I figured I would just share an excerpt from his journal entry after his daughter’s experience as a member of Eric’s Entourage.
“The whole thing was amazing. I was thinking (and would have been happy with) nosebleed seats and we are in the Luxury Suite. I don’t know how I will explain to the kids that hockey games are not normally viewed like this. Not everyone gets a visit from the Cheerleaders. The fresh baked cookies normally aren’t waiting there for you. The chicken nuggets are not always all-you-can-eat.
So how’d this whole thing come together? Turns out that Eric Staal and his wife buy this Suite and offer it up in situations like ours. I guess we were guests of the Staal’s tonight. I’m pretty sure he’s Haidyn’s favorite player. Once we told her and Ty that he paid for our tickets, they would announce each time he hit the ice. And would cheer whenever he was near the puck. When he scored a goal towards the end of the game, Haidyn cheered very loudly for her favorite player.”
I’m just lucky I get the opportunity to visit the suite each night and witness the opportunity Eric Staal provides for these kids. Many of these kids, like Haidyn Reinhardt, have never been to a game, so it really is an experience of a lifetime.
To learn more about Eric’s Entourage, or to determine whether or not your organization qualifies for the opportunity, click here for more information.