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GM Poile Makes Challenge to "Pay it to Parkinson's"

by Alexis Tahara / Nashville Predators

On Tuesday night, nearly 1,000 people arrived at Bridgestone Arena for the fourth annual Petey’s Preds Party. After a busy Monday on the golf course at the Nashville Predators Brent Peterson Celebrity Golf Classic, Petey’s Preds Party allowed guests to relax, bid on some great auction items from across the sports and entertainment industry, enjoy a delicious meal and get in some laughs courtesy of comedian Keith Alberstadt.

While much fun was had during both Monday’s Golf Classic and Tuesday’s Petey’s Preds Party, the ultimate goal of both events is to raise money and awareness for the Nashville Predators Foundation and Peterson Foundation for Parkinson’s.

As the program began on Tuesday night, Brent Peterson took to the stage to introduce a special guest, Nashville Predators General Manager David Poile. While David Poile is a familiar face to both Preds and hockey fans alike, the story he told of his father Bud’s battle with Parkinson’s Disease was unfamiliar to many in attendance.

Bud Poile began his hockey career in 1942 as a rookie with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and over the course of his career would suit up for five of the “Original Six” franchises. During the 1947-48 season, Bud Poile represented the Leafs at the All-Star Game and was a member of Toronto’s Stanley Cup winning squad.

After retiring from playing in 1954, Bud Poile moved behind the bench and later into the front office. Bud Poile was the General Manager of two NHL expansion teams, first the Philadelphia Flyers in 1967 and three years later, in 1970, helped mold the first Vancouver Canucks franchise. In 1990, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame’s “Builder Category” after a successful hockey career that spanned six decades.

As David Poile recounted his father’s hockey experiences, he also shared stories of his father’s battle with Parkinson’s Disease, the disease that ultimately claimed his life in 2005. One such story David Poile shared took place when Bud Poile, after retirement, went along with his son on one of the Nashville Predators’ “Father’s Trips.”

On the trip, Bud Poile was a leader among the dads, entertaining them with stories of the NHL from years past, but his father’s frustration with Parkinson’s is still clear in David Poile’s memory of the trip. His father, a proud member of the Hall of Fame and NHL veteran, needed his son’s help to tie his tie for game night and needed to use a long shoe horn to attempt the task of putting his shoes on every day.

“I was actually honored to be able to share my Dad’s story,” David Poile said. “Someone said, ‘That must have been really hard,’ but actually it felt really good. My hope is that someday in the future, when they find a cure for Parkinson’s, people like my Dad, people like Brent, will have served a greater purpose in all they went through.”

After sharing his father’s story, David Poile issued a challenge to the captive crowd, instructing everyone in attendance to reach under their chairs and pull out an envelope that contained a single green coin. This coin, emblazoned with “Pay It To Parkinson’s,” is David Poile’s hope to get the word out and drive awareness of, and ultimately drive research funding toward, this terrible disease.

A coin is a motivational tool that David Poile has used for Preds players in the past, and this idea is no different. After hearing David Poile’s and Brent’s stories about Parkinson’s, audience members were challenged to make a donation to Parkinson’s research. After making a donation, David Poile challenged everyone to share about the disease and pass along the coin to someone they know, with the hope that another donation will follow.

David Poile himself started the first “Pay It To Parkinson’s,” from the stage, making a donation to the Peterson for Parkinson’s Foundation and then calling on Predators goaltender Carter Hutton, who was born in the same city as Bud Poile, Thunder Bay, Ontario, to accept the coin. Hutton accepted the coin from his general manager, made a donation and passed it along to one of the newest members of the team, James Neal. The “Pay It To Parkinson’s,” continued even after Hutton and Neal left the stage, with players posting photos on Twitter of their participation in the call to action.

“When you look at the picture of Brent walking in to have his [DBS] surgery, the physical situation of his Parkinson’s Disease, and then see him now, it’s remarkable,” David Poile said. “It’s fair to be way more optimistic than it was 20 years ago [when my Dad was diagnosed]; the progress is there. The treatment is now light years apart and there are lots of opportunities out there to improve your quality of life, even when you have Parkinson’s.”

In addition to the 1,000 coins that were distributed on Tuesday night at Petey’s Preds Party, the Nashville Predators will hand out more than 17,000 coins to everyone in attendance at an upcoming Predators home game. The team is working to move the challenge from their general manager for “more fundraising, more awareness and more research” forward and, “Pay It To Parkinson’s.”

For more information on Brent Peterson’s Peterson Foundation for Parkinson’s and how you can get involved in the fight against Parkinson’s Disease, visit petersonforparkinsons.org. To donate to David Poile’s “Pay It To Parkinson’s” challenge, visit preds.co/pfpgive.

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