The Nashville Predators may not be on the ice during the summer months, but for team mascot Gnash, there’s never an offseason, as he’s constantly making friends throughout Middle Tennessee.
This week, Gnash visited Camp Will, a specialized therapeutic day camp for children, adolescents and young adults with physical and/or intellectual disabilities.
“Camp Will is run through Williamson County Parks and Recreation and it’s a special needs camp for kids from the age of four to the age of 23,” Assistant Senior and Therapeutic Administrator Lindsey Wood said. “All of our kids have different types of disabilities and we provide a lot of one-on-one and two-on-one support from the staff. We have a lot of staff to help run our camp too.”
The staff of Camp Will aims to build confidence and self-esteem, helps foster independence and enhance social skills through a variety of activities such as art, music, dance and sports as recreation therapy.
“We wanted Gnash to come out because he is always a big hit with our kids,” Wood said. “Our kids really enjoy seeing mascots, especially because they are really friendly. We knew that as soon as Gnash came out and was here in the building that we would see all of the smiles. They were really excited to see him.
“I’ve worked with other non-profit organizations that the Predators have been very supportive of. It makes them connect even more to Nashville. I know Nashville has grown and really started to embrace and love the Predators - those that are hockey fans and those that aren’t - they just want to be supportive of the local team. The Predators have really embraced the community in all realms. It’s truly amazing.”
Preds Community Relations Coordinator Snow Rose attended the meet-and-greet and loved seeing the kids’ faces light up when Gnash arrived. Some of the children who were cautious of our favorite sabertooth tiger started with a high five, which inevitably turned into a hug.
“It’s really important for the Preds and the Predators Foundation to go out into the community because our fans our great; they support us year-round,” Rose said. “Without that, we can’t be successful in handing out our grants or our scholarships. Anytime we can get out, it’s just a little way for us to say thank you and let them know we appreciate everything they do for us all year.”
Gnash makes 600 appearances at events during the year, including proms, walking brides down the aisle, delivering flowers to significant others and surprising children at their day camps or on their birthday.
“It’s a really good chance for us to get back out in the community and build some excitement for the upcoming season, but also just to remind people we are here for them all year - not just during the season,” Rose said. “We appreciate everything the fans do for us, so it’s a little chance for us to give back and say hi to some of them.”