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Monday, January 4 marked the 12th annual Skate With the Canes fundraising event for the Kids ‘N Community Foundation. This sold-out event was the highest-grossing Skate With the Canes event to date as over $40,000 was raised for the Kids ‘N Community Foundation.
As in the past, the event was broken into three major stations: skating, photographs and autographs. The players were broken into three separate groups with one of the team captains in each group. The players rotated in the opposite direction of the attendees to ensure that each group of attendees spent time at one station with each group of players.
Community Relations Coordinator Katharine Kelley is the mastermind behind Skate With the Canes and she had a great plan of attack for this year’s event. Her plan was executed as well this year as I have ever seen, making for a very smooth and enjoyable event for everyone I saw and spoke with.
I tried to move between each of the three groups during each rotation. I will list below some of the great things I noticed.
- Virtually the entire roster was in attendance for this event, including injured Hurricanes players like Chad LaRose, who had not even been cleared to skate at the time of the event, and Scott Walker, who was set to undergo surgery the next day.
- Canes players enjoy this event as they like sharing the ice and their time with fans. The fact that Staal, Cullen and Corvo all had their wives and sons join them on the ice helped demonstrate how comfortable the players are at this event.
- Several players, including Tim Gleason, Brandon Sutter and Scott Walker spent time teaching young Canes fans how to skate.
- Eric Staal’s leadership was on display as he was typically the first to greet every group to take a picture and he was the last to leave the ice during his session…even to the point of volunteering his autograph to a few people as he left the ice.
- The winner of the 50/50 raffle was a teenage boy who donated almost all of his winnings back to the Kids ‘N Community Foundation…a very nice and unexpected gesture by the young Caniac.
- Very few youth-size skates were “rented” from us. This is a trend that helps showcase that many kids in the area are not only skating, but are skating in their own skates. This is especially impressive to me as I grew up in the Carolinas and I think there was maybe one kid in my middle school who owned ice skates.
- The photos were moved back into the locker room after five years of staged photos in the west priority lounge. I was slightly nervous to make this change as the locker room is very tight when you add 200 people into it, but it worked like clockwork as all of the Caniacs attending were prepared when it was their time for the flashbulbs.
- Of the three sold-out groups, not one ran over on the time allotted for each station. This is a testament to the respect showed by each attendee as it is amazing how a few extra photos or autographs can completely affect the event.
- Nearly 20 Canes and RBC Center staff members volunteered their time during a day-off. The life of working in entertainment can be fun, but it also means things like working just before and after Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. One reward this year was having Monday, January 4 as a company holiday…yet roughly 20 staff members still volunteered their time to help make sure the event ran smoothly.
Thanks again to everyone who attended. The funds raised through this event are greatly needed and appreciated as the requests to our Foundation continue to rise as quickly as the community needs.