Instead of slapping pucks or delivering crushing hits, Nashville Predators players joined up with Preds staff and fans in hitting the jackpot at the GnashVegas Casino Night and Auction presented by King Jewelers on Feb. 15 at Bridgestone Arena. At GnashVegas, guests mixed and mingled at casino tables with Predators players and coaching staff, enjoyed food from local restaurants, drinks from an open bar and bet on one-of-a-kind auction items.
The memorable evening was the highest grossing night in the event’s history, raising nearly $100,000 from the auction alone. All the proceeds from GnashVegas support the Nashville Predators Foundation, which funds charitable programs in Middle Tennessee and team programs like the 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund.
“GnashVegas really is the center of all of our fundraising activities,” Predators President Sean Henry said. “When you look at it, it is not just the funds that we raise, which are tremendous, it’s that it engages all of our fans. This is the focal point of what we are, so then off this, everything else is built.”
Changing it up from years past, Henry said fans who were unable to make it to GnashVegas were able to participate in the auction online. It allowed these fans a chance to keep driving the Predators Foundation forward and still be in touch with the event even though they couldn’t attend.
Kristen Laviolette, wife of Preds Head Coach Peter Laviolette, is a new member of the Predators Foundation Board this year. Laviolette played a pivotal part in getting the players’ wives and girlfriends engaged in the event and coming up with the glamorous white and gold “diamonds and ice” theme for the evening.
Fans and players were dressed to the nines, getting to play a round of poker together or take the opportunity to grab a few photos or autographs.
“For the fans to be able to interact and mingle with them [the players and coaching staff] in a casual setting like this and get a few minutes to talk to their favorite player is wonderful. You are not separated by glass anymore,” Laviolette said.
“It is their way to give back to the fans, and the fans are here to support the Foundation, bid on some wonderful items and it gives back to the community. It is a full circle, wonderful night.”
Making GnashVegas even more focused on the community was the mouthwatering array of food available from local establishments across Middle Tennessee.
Whitt’s Barbecue was one of the many restaurants guests could sample from, and serving up pulled pork sliders with a smile was Whitt’s franchise co-owner since 1979, Steve Dunlap. Dunlap has been a Nashville Predators season-ticket holder from the very beginning, a member of the Loyal Legion since 1997.
“Attendance has been good from Day One here,” Dunlap said.
“With the team winning, everyone is in a great mood,” Nashville Predators Senior Director of Community Relations Rebecca King said. “It is not all about the hockey, it is about having a laid back evening, and at the end of the night it is for a great cause.”
Being No. 1 in the NHL takes hard work, and GnashVegas is a way to help everyone let loose and relax. After all, a No. 1 team needs No. 1 fans and the support from Smashville has undoubtedly earned everyone their fangs.
For a photo gallery of the event, click here.
GnashVegas is just the beginning to a year of Nashville Predators Foundation fundraising events. Fans can mark their calendars for April 2nd, when the Wine Festival and Tasting presented by King Jewelers will take place. For more information about upcoming Foundation events, or on the Foundation itself, visit Nashvillepredators.com/foundation.