Wednesday afternoon’s practice was about one hour later than originally planned, but that did not bother kids from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Piedmont Triad Chapter.
Ten kids and their families were at practice as part of a program they were calling “Heroes meeting Heroes”. The kids were able to show off their shooting skills on-ice before practice. The original plan was for the kids to take a few shots after practice…but with the delay we decided to warm-up the nets before the Canes took the ice. With the help of a few Hurricanes mats, the kids were able to take a few shots on some of the freshest and smoothest ice in North Carolina.
After each had a chance to warm-up, Tim Gleason and Justin Williams joined the kids for a few shooting lessons. The lessons were actually provided by Gleason, who after hitting a few shots was confident enough to call certain spots on the left post. He impressed each kid and he even convinced Justin that he should not try to follow him. Both Tim and Justin then assisted each kid as they took a few shots on net.
After the on-ice portion was done, each kid was able to get autographs and photos. Two very happy kids even walked away with their own Williams and Gleason game-used sticks.
I am always impressed by our players…but perhaps none more than Wednesday. It was not exactly the best road trip and they did not arrive to Raleigh until early Wednesday morning…yet both Justin and Tim took time to come out early and provide long-lasting memories for kids who have lost a little of their ability to be a care-free child due to a very tough disease.
I do not want to take a lot of time, because she would get mad at me if I did, but I want to also mention that Anne Clinard Nelson will be leaving our Community Relations Department at the end of next week (tonight is her last game night). She has accepted a new position that is great for her family and her career development (not sure if you noticed…but we work some weird hours here at the RBC Center).
Anne has been on-staff with the Hurricanes since October of 1997. She started by working in our first “Eye” team store and has been in the community relations department since roughly 2000.
Those of you who have gotten to know Anne over the past decade fully understand that her kind heart and her ability to connect with fans is what has allowed her to excel at her job. Our department receives thousands of requests each year, many of which are not possible, some of which are not feasible. However, Anne has always tried to find a way to make something work for the request.
This dedication is what our team is about and why our community involvement is always a main priority. I was going to give Anne here own “fond farewell” blog, but I knew she would rather be a part of one of her final community events…an event that dealt with the Piedmont Triad and Winston-Salem…the hometown of many great people.