The title of the 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund presented by Twice Daily signifies that no day in the calendar is less important than the rest when it comes to raising money for medical research.
But one day sure is a lot more fun.
On Wednesday, inside the Ryan Seacrest Studios, the Nashville Predators presented a check for $442,365.17 to the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, surpassing last year's record donation by more than $15,000. The Predators have donated nearly $1.5 million to the Children's Hospital dating back to 2010.
"The financial support from the Predators organization is enormous and so much of what we do, we could not do without them," Pediatrician-in-Chief at the Children's Hospital Dr. Steven A. Webber said. "Every year, we're getting better at what we do through research to keep improving the lives of our patients. But we're not there yet, and we're only going to be happy when 100 percent of children are cured and cancer can be prevented."
The children in attendance Wednesday weren't so interested in the annual donation check, however. Their eyes were locked on longtime Predators goalie Pekka Rinne. Surrounded by energetic youngsters - some of whom sported Predators gold or even tiny hockey pads - Rinne's broad grin matched that of his admirers.
He bent his athletic, 6-foot-5 frame down toward the eager crowd, spying a miniature version of himself. The doll wore a gold No. 35 jersey, just like Rinne, but also an over-the-ear nasal oxygen tube, just like the boy carrying it.
"You get to see the kids and you get to see their families, and I'm pleased to be the little break from their routines," said Rinne, who along with former Preds captain Shea Weber, helped form the 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund presented by Twice Daily. "A lot of the kids are in a tough position going through some battles. Hopefully, we can create some joy in their days."
Now in his 12th year in the net for Nashville, Rinne is responsible for a lot more than just joy. He piloted the Predators to the Stanley Cup Final in June and has used his platform in professional sports to become a beacon in the community.
"Pekka's spirit reverberates through our entire organization and you can really feel his passion," Predators Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer Chris Junghans said. "I don't think we'd have a 365 Fund without him."
The 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund presented by Twice Daily works with the Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt to raise funds and awareness for pediatric cancer research. Additionally, the initiative coordinates with the team to host a series of opportunities that enable the hospital's young patrons and their families to get a special dose of the Smashville hockey experience.