EDMONTON, AB - Leon Draisaitl sees young leaders in Edmonton.
He saw first-hand the impact of youth education in students a year ago as a team captain at D. S. MacKenzie School with Hockey Helps Kids.
"The students were so dedicated to their cause," Draisaitl said of the experience. "They were inspiring."
That's why, in the form of a generous donation and long-term commitment in the community to Hockey Helps Kids and WE Day Alberta, he's prepared to support them in a big way.
Video: COMMUNITY | Draisaitl's Donation
On-stage Monday afternoon flanked by WE Day motivational speaker Spencer West and Hockey Helps Kids participant Owen Marusiak in the Oilers Hall of Fame room, Draisaitl pledged a $150,000 annual donation as part one of an eight-year plan to support Hockey Helps Kids and WE Day Alberta.
The German forward's donation will be matched at Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation (EOCF) for a total of $225,000 to bring the total amount over the next eight years to $1.8 million.
Looking to contribute further in the community of his adopted home in Edmonton, it was an easy decision.
"I think as a player coming to this city and making it my home for most of the year, I find it very important to find a connection," Draisaitl said. "I want to be part of building something in this city, and I'm very excited for this chance and look forward to starting."
WE Day Alberta, which comes to Edmonton and Rogers Place for the first time on October 12, is a celebration of youth and difference-makers. Students earn their way to WE Day events by participating in the educational and service-based resources available to them through WE Schools, a program designed to enhance school's social initiatives while developing life skills in students.
The number of students impacted by Leon's contributions will be a significant one, says WE Day motivational speaker Spencer West.
"We're going to have 16,000 students here, plus the outreach of the WE Schools Program to go all across Alberta is really exciting as well," West said. "We have 975 schools here right now, but imagine the reach we can have with those free resources in the next coming years. It's significant for us and we're super excited to reach more youth in that regard."
"I think what's great about it is it shows that everyone can give back in some way, whether you're 12 years old or an incredible star athlete. We all have the ability and the resources to do so, it's just looking at what you can you do to actually do that."