In September of 2014, Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne spearheaded the first annual donation on behalf of his newly formed 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund presented by Twice Daily. Rinne, alongside former Predators captain Shea Weber, developed the initiative with one goal in mind: raising money to catalyze pediatric cancer research.
The first check? A hefty $312,242.90.
Six years later, very little has changed: Rinne remains an integral part of the research conducted at Vanderbilt's Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital. On Monday afternoon, Rinne paid a visit to deliver the foundation's sixth consecutive check.
This one, however, was worthy of even more praise - the check totaled a whopping $550,365.19, the largest single-year donation since the inception of the partnership.
But if you ask Rinne, he'll tell you something different. He doesn't think he deserves much of the credit.
"I feel like I get way too much recognition for this," Rinne said. "It's so much more personal, and you start creating relationships. It's very meaningful to me and special."
Video: Pekka Rinne presents check for pediatric cancer fight
Rinne's visit to Children's Hospital only confirmed that notion. He could've just mailed the check to the hospital - still making a significant impact - but Rinne makes the visits himself. He wants to foster those very relationships and make a difference in the lives of those young Predators fans at the hospital.
"To be honest with you, I love the visits where I actually see the kids and go visit them, and maybe make them smile."
He stayed at the hospital after presenting the check to play games with the children, take photos and conduct a meet-and-greet. The gestures came as little surprise to Predators President & CEO Sean Henry.
"It's amazing how humble Peks is. He's one of those guys that's in the hospital more than any of us even know," Henry said. "There are times you'll come here for your own business reasons or personal reasons and literally pass him walking out of a hospital room. He really cares about these kids, there's no doubt about it. They know it; they feel it."
The 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund presented by Twice Daily has helped enable pediatric cancer research at the hospital to the tune of more than $3 million in donations over the last half decade.
"The Preds Foundation does an unbelievable job with it raising money," Rinne said. "Twice Daily, our big partner, they also do an amazing job with raising money. So I just get to come here and get all the glory, but that's not really how it should work. I'm just humbled to be part of it."