Maybe it’s just good karma for all their community efforts, but the Nashville Predators have been racking up points at a torrent pace these last couple of months. With games coming fast, furious and right on top of one another, it’s a wonder the players have had a chance to breathe – much less be as involved in holiday outreach as they have been.
But despite their hectic schedules, the Predators players have been extremely active in the community this holiday season, starting with David Legwand
and Ryan Suter
’s Thanksgiving Turkey deliveries back in November. Legwand, Suter and Predators staff delivered 50 turkeys donated by Levy Restaurants to Magdalene House, Mending Hearts, Nurses for Newborns, Rochelle Center and Youth Life Learning Centers. Because of these deliveries, more than 200 people were given the opportunity to enjoy a home-made Thanksgiving feast.
Directly following the deliveries, Legwand and Suter sponsored a turkey dinner for more than 100 youth from Youth Encouragement Services at the Sommet Center. The players, aided by Gnash, served the youth their Thanksgiving dinners with Suter manning the turkey and stuffing station and Legwand serving up his Thanksgiving favorite, mashed potatoes. After dinner, Legwand and Suter helped the youngsters frost and decorate gingerbread-man cookies.
“They deserve to enjoy their Thanksgiving just like everyone else,” Legwand said of the organizations they visited. “That’s something we tried to help them out with a little bit today and it was fun. It’s fun to put a smile on people’s faces and to see how excited they are to enjoy their Thanksgiving.”
Keeping with the Thanksgiving outreach Cody Franson and Jordin Tootoo
participated in a Turkey Shoot – an event which allowed youth from Against the Grain, a non-profit in Franklin, to win a turkey or ham (donated by Delaware North Companies Sportservice) for their family. The event also featured games, activities, refreshments, autographs and pictures.
Not to be outdone, Jason Arnott and his wife Dina hosted and sponsored a Christmas party for 80 children from Against the Grain, Bethlehem Centers, Nashville Children’s Alliance, Youth Encouragement Services and Youth Life Learning Center. More than 130 people were in attendance for the event which featured dinner, visits from Santa and GNASH and delivering of gifts off the kids’ Christmas lists.
In addition to the larger events, the Predators also had a hand in several smaller outreach programs. Predators games regularly played host to local charity drives such as the Second Harvest Food Bank Food Drive, the Salvation Army Kettle Drive and the Toys for Tots Toy Drive. These drives combined for 3,000lbs + of food, 1,850 toys and more than $8,200 in donations for the needy this holiday season. Holiday wreaths, put together by players wives and girlfriends, were auctioned off at December home games and raised more than $2,300 for the Nashville Predators Foundation.
Several players also made special visits to Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt and its young patients. On one day in particular while donning Santa hats, Francis Bouillon
, Cody Franson, Dan Hamhuis and GNASH went room-to-room signing autographs and spreading cheer. Prior to the visit, the players along with Best Buy presented several electronic devices, movies and games to the Children’s Hospital for use by immunocompromised patients who are not able to leave their rooms.
Through their efforts this holiday season, the Nashville Predators helped raise more than $10,500 for those in need and touched the lives of more than 700 people. The players understand they are in unique positions to be able to give back to the community that supports them and are happy to give as much of their time as they can – proving that the biggest assist, really is off the ice.
“Being able to give is the best part,” Suter said of the community outreach. “Being in the situation we are in, we are able to give back to people and kids and I think that is the most rewarding thing for us.”