On Wednesday, the Pittsburgh Penguins delivered plenty of smiles in time for the holidays.
For the 21st season, the team held its annual Make-A-Wish Foundation practice and party at Mellon Arena. Participating families serviced by a local chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation attended a Penguins practice in the morning and had lunch with the players in the afternoon at the Igloo Club.
“It’s fun for us to be able to come up here and see the smiles on their faces. It’s a pleasure for us as much as it is for them,” Penguins center Dominic Moore said. “It’s the holiday season and that’s what it’ all about. Anytime you can put a smile on someone’s face, it’s fun.”
The children cheered on the Penguins during practice, much to the players’ delight.
“They came out and watched the practice. It’s nice to see the support they give us and it was nice to make them smile,” Penguins forward Chris Thorburn said.
Following lunch, the players mingled with the children and their families and posed for pictures and signed a variety of items, including hockey cards.
“They have cards from when I was a 16-year-old and that was fun to see and, obviously, get a few jabs from the guys who see them, too,” Thorburn said. “They gave us a lot of support and it’s nice to give something back and see them smile.”
Colby Armstrong enjoyed meeting the children and signing his autograph.
“It’s fun. It’s fun to see all the faces. I think they’re all having fun and I think that’s what matters – having fun and getting to meet some really great people,” he said. “ Such a simple thing can make a person feel so good. It’s great to see the way they handle themselves. You can learn a lot from such a young person. It’s great they came out today and we got to meet them. It was a fun day.”
Maxime Talbot was happy to help put smiles on faces and provide some laughter.
“It’s great for the kids, but it’s great for the players, too. It’s always fun to take part in an event like this because you bring joy and a smile to these kids’ faces. I remember being young and having the chance to meet NHL players was always huge for me. It still is.
“That’s why we’re here. The holidays are soon and any time you can bring joy to a child’s life, it’s always nice,” he continued. “Like later today, I will go home and think about it. It’s not a normal day because, let’s say I made 10 kids happy – it’s important for me and the rest of the players as well as the kids.”