Andy Hosler had no idea how much support was coming his way.
The Predators head athletic trainer lost his father to ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, in March of 2008 and when the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge began to take off at the beginning of August, Hosler saw it as a way to help raise awareness, and potentially some funds, toward research for the disease. Forming a Walk to Defeat ALS Team at the Tennessee Chapter of the ALS Association’s annual fundraiser seemed like a logical idea.
“My wife and I talked about how we were kind of going to do this to raise a couple hundred, maybe a couple thousand dollars to kind of just put forth some effort,” Hosler said.
But then things picked up within the Nashville Predators organization. Head Coach Peter Laviolette and players Seth Jones, Shea Weber and Mike Fisher, among plenty of others, have not only taken the Ice Bucket Challenge, but donated as well.
And then the backing expanded again.
Two members of the Predators ownership group, De Thompson V and John Thompson, agreed to match every donation for the initial $25,000 that is raised through the team.
De Thompson, the CEO of Thompson Machinery, has had others close to him affected by the disease firsthand, leading to a willingness to contribute.
“I’ve seen (the effects of ALS) way too close, so that’s really the drive behind wanting to keep the push alive,” Thompson said. “Hopefully there will be more attention and there’s a cure out there to be found, real soon. I’ve already lost one good friend and I really don’t want to lose another.
“We just said, ‘Look, this is a chance to try and make a difference for (ALS research).’ The Predators have a great brand name, Caterpillar has a great brand name and hopefully the combination of the Predators, Thompson Machinery and CAT can drive a few extra bucks to the effort to find a cure.”
For Hosler, it was more than he ever could have fathomed.
“It’s very touching to have so much support from a lot of people that I may not have met before and a lot of people that I do know very closely,” Hosler said. “It gives me a lot of gratitude to know that we have people out there that are willing to support us through a cause that has touched us so deeply.”
Hosler’s team in the ALS Walk is aptly named ‘Grandpa JJ’s Toothache Avengers’ in honor of his father, who practiced dentistry in Monroe, Michigan. It’ll be the first time that Hosler and his family have gotten involved in this type of fundraiser, but this will likely turn into an annual outing for the family.
“I had always been interested in doing (an ALS Walk) but when this all happened and kind of exploded, it allowed me to jump on board and gave me a reason to start something, start supporting a cause that was something that ran deep with us,” Hosler said.
Ultimately, the goal is to arrive at a cure for ALS. That may be easier said than done, but with the influx of support, something could be on the horizon. The Predators are just pleased to be able to assist in the efforts. And every effort makes a difference, no matter how small.
“The underlying cause is ‘let’s find a cure,’ that’s what should be driving everyone’s motivation,” Thompson said. “My challenge to everyone would be to look into the disease, appreciate how cruel it is and whatever way they’re motivated to help find a cure, that’s the endgame here. Let’s put an end to the disease.”
“It means a lot and there may be some sort of development that comes from all this that may change the face of ALS,” Hosler said. “It’s just astounding to me and I can’t express the gratitude that I feel towards anybody that’s willing to make a difference.”
For more information on ‘Grandpa JJ’s Toothache Avengers,’ or to make a donation, please visit here.