The Nashville Predators Foundation made a trip to Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt on Wednesday afternoon with a special gift in tow.
The Foundation, led by Predators captain Shea Weber and goaltender Pekka Rinne, presented a check to the hospital in the name of the 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund.
The check totaled $319,413.90, a combination of cash and in-kind donations that had been raised throughout the 2013-14 season. It is the largest donation the Preds have ever given to Children’s Hospital.
Back in March, the Predators Foundation announced the formation of the 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund, led in part by Weber and Rinne. The “365” stems from a play on their respective sweater numbers. Through the fund, Weber and Rinne purchased two suites at Bridgestone Arena that were renovated over the summer into one large suite that can accommodate up to 30 children and their families.
For the pair, it’s not about garnering attention for their involvement; rather, they want to encourage the rest of Smashville to follow their lead.
“It’s not about us, it’s about the kids,” Weber said. “We don’t want recognition and all the stuff that goes with it, we just want the kids to come [to a game] and have a good time and be able to get away from whatever situation they’re dealing with in their life.”
“We’re in a pretty special position to be able to do this,” Rinne said. “Obviously, you need a lot of help to make it happen and the hospital itself and the Predators Foundation have helped us a lot.
“I think it was an easy decision to be involved with the kids and do this kind of work. It’s a great day and we’ve been really happy to have this [365 Fund] going on.”
The feeling is mutual from Children’s Hospital.
Director of the Division of Pediatric Oncology at Children’s Dr. Debra Friedman explained that the money will go towards research in laboratories and clinics, with an end goal of eliminating all childhood cancers.
“Our relationship with the Nashville Predators is really special in many ways,” Friedman said. “This really means a lot to [the kids]. They’re so excited about seeing the Predators players, whether it’s here in the hospital, but most importantly out on the ice.”
The Preds have now donated more than $800,000 to Children’s Hospital over the last five years, and it’s a friendship that continues to grow with each passing season.
“It’s a really special partnership to have this kind of philanthropy right here in our community,” Friedman said. “We can help the Predators in terms of when there’s a game, we’re out there rooting for them. We’re bringing people to the game, but they really can help us turn the face of childhood cancer in ways that we can’t do by ourselves and we can’t do alone with federal funding anymore. This really makes a difference every day in the lives of every child we treat here.”
And although those children may not recognize the monetary value, they’re well aware when there’s a Nashville Predator in the room. For Weber, that’s more than enough incentive to be involved with Children’s.
“It’s great to see [the kids],” Weber said. “I know the organization is big here and we like to come over here a lot and spend time with the kids. Any chance we get to put a smile on their face or brighten their day, we’ll definitely take it.”
Predators President/COO and President of the Predators Foundation Sean Henry was also on hand, thanking Nissan and Dollar General for their support of the 365 Fund. Based in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, Dollar General will become the presenting partner of the program, beginning with the 2014-15 season.
Throughout the season, Weber and Rinne will join forces with the Foundation, raising money for the 365 Fund through Hockey Fights Cancer nights on Nov. 15 and March 7. The Preds will take on Winnipeg both nights, with patients from Children’s Hospital on hand to participate in a ceremonial puck drop, ride the Zamboni and more. All money raised during those games will benefit the 365 Fund.
For more information on the 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund presented by Dollar General, please visit nashvillepredators.com/365
To join the fight against childhood cancer and donate, please visit nashvillepredators.com/365donate