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Panthers Stars Make Huge Commitment To South Florida Community

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers

Children's Charities from across South Florida will Benefit From New Panthers Players Charitable Programs

SUNRISE, FL – Sunrise Sports & Entertainment and the Florida Panthers Foundation announced today that for the first time in the history of the franchise, five Florida Panthers players – Captain Olli Jokinen, Todd Bertuzzi, Mike Van Ryn, Ed Belfour and Chris Gratton – have each formed their own charitable programs in which they will donate Panthers tickets to South Florida charities throughout the 2006-07 season.

"Never in the history of this franchise have so many players made such a significant commitment to community outreach," SSE chief operating officer Michael Yormark said. "The people of South Florida are obviously important to our players, their lives and their careers. So it is certainly fitting to found these programs at the beginning of one of the most exciting seasons in Panthers history."

"My teammates and I strongly believe that everyone should have the opportunity to see a Florida Panthers game up close," Captain Olli Jokinen said. "These programs are a way for us to make that opportunity a reality, and to give back to the community that continues to be so supportive of our team."

Each individual Panthers star has purchased a designated number of tickets and suites for the season totaling over $100,000 – the largest player donated sum in team history. Throughout the season, the tickets or suites will be distributed to a number of charitable children's organizations in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade Counties. In addition, the player's wives have pledged their time and effort to selecting the charities and reaching out to other children's organizations that can benefit from the programs.

"Clearly, the generosity of the Florida Panthers players and their wives knows no bounds," said V.P. of Community Development Randy Moller. "Each one of these players and their wives actively approached the Foundation to start these worthwhile charities. They're dedication to the youth of South Florida is truly admirable."

Each of the player's charities – Captain's Corner, Bertuzzi's Buddies, Rhino's Runts, Eagle's Nest and Gratton's Gang – will be marked by hanging banners in the BankAtlantic Center's inner bowl. For more information about any of the player charities or the Panthers Foundation please contact Jean Marshall at (954) 835-7720 or

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