You may not know his name, but Luke Gregory made an indelible impact on so many in the Smashville family.
On Saturday, as the Predators hold their annual Hockey Fights Cancer game, as part of a Leaguewide initiative to bring awareness and raise funds to combat the disease that affects so many, they'll honor Gregory with heavy hearts.
On Oct. 18, the former chief executive officer of Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, and one of the hospital's most passionate advocates, lost his battle with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
There isn't a player on the Predators roster - either now or former - who hasn't set foot inside the walls of Children's Hospital at some point during their time with the club. Every fan knows the relationship with the hospital too - one that sees the Predators logo represent a dedication to finding a cure for the disease.
"What we have created with our partnership with Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt on so many fronts, but especially through the 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund and our Hockey Fights Cancer nights, would not have been possible without the vision, passion and creativity of Luke," Predators President and CEO Sean Henry said. "He positioned us and all of the supporting programs for success and always had a long-term vision to make each tangential initiative drive toward our ultimate goal - in raising the funds necessary to continue to move research forward while making each child's day better through our interactions. He was truly a special man and all of us that were fortunate enough to have known him will miss him."
During Saturday's game, Preds players will wear helmets inscribed with the initials "LG," honoring Gregory, and his family is invited to attend the game for the remembrance of the man who had served as CEO of the hospital since 2011.
"Our family is overwhelmed to see Luke's memory honored in this way," said Susan Gregory, his wife of nearly 40 years. "Luke was a humble man, who always wanted attention to go to others. He would be floored by this incredible gesture from the Nashville Predators, and I know exactly how Luke would respond. He would want all of us to roll up our sleeves and, on his behalf, relentlessly support and care for any person facing a cancer diagnosis."
Predators fans attending Saturday's game are encouraged to join in the fight against childhood cancer. Volunteers will be on hand with donation buckets at the entrances to Bridgestone Arena and around the concourse to collect funds for research, and fans may also add a $1 button to their purchase as an additional donation at all arena concession stands.
The Preds host two Hockey Fights Cancer games per season with the next installment scheduled for Feb. 22 (Blue Jackets vs. Predators). Pediatric patients from Children's Hospital are also invited to the games, with a patient ambassador participating in a ceremonial puck drop, riding the Zamboni and more. All money raised during the games will benefit the 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund presented by Twice Daily.
Over the past eight years combined, the Predators have given more than $2 million in donations and in-kind contributions to the hospital and its programs. For more information on Hockey Fights Cancer games, click here.