Smiles were plentiful on Monday afternoon at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, and not just because Pekka Rinne was on hand to snap some selfies.
In what has become an annual tradition, the 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund, started by Rinne and former Preds Captain Shea Weber, in conjunction with the Nashville Predators Foundation, donated a check to the hospital in the pursuit of finding a cure for pediatric cancer.
Thanks to assistance from the Preds Foundation, players and the general public, this year's donation totaled more than $427,000, and will not only go to help fund pediatric cancer research and treatments, but also a massive expansion at Children's Hospital. Four new floors, which will house 150 additional beds, are also being added to the hospital, and the assistance from the Predators plays a part in making it all possible.
"They do so much for this organization, not just giving money, but they give their time; the players come and go room to room and visit with children and with their families, and that's a huge morale boost to the families that are stuck here in the hospital for a long period of time," Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Children's Hospital Steven Webber said. "They've been our partner for many years, and we're really proud and delighted by that partnership."
The check presentation, as Rinne put it, is just the "cherry on top" of everything else he and his teammates are able to do at the hospital.
Rinne, who has now been in Nashville for almost a decade, says when he first started making he visits, he didn't necessarily understand the impact he could have by giving an hour of his time to say hello. But now, the netminder knows exactly what it means to put a smile on a child's face.
"You just realize when you talk to parents or you talk to nurses and the staff, how big of an impact it could have," Rinne said. "When you hear that, it just makes you feel good. Being able to give something back or whatever it is, it's a good feeling."
For more information on the 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund or the Nashville Predators Foundation, click here.