|Rookie Brandon Dubinsky presents a young Rangers fan with a jersey and cap during a charity event held at the Madison Square Garden Training Center on Oct. 8.
On Oct. 8, the New York Rangers joined the Garden of Dreams Foundation and its charity partner, Children's Village, in conducting a special scavenger hunt for 20 children at the Madison Square Garden Training Center.
Children's Village focuses on providing safety for children who have come from foster care, abuse situations, unstable households and neglect. The program serves more than 1,000 children in residential programs and approximately 10,000 children in the community.
Representing the Rangers at the event were Ryan Callahan
, Brandon Dubinsky
, Dan Girardi
and Scott Gomez, along with Head Coach Tom Renney and assistant coaches Mike Pelino, Perry Pearn and Benoit Allaire.
"I'm not sure how often kids get to come out and see professional athletes and where they train, so I think the whole day was important for them" said Dubinsky. "For me growing up, it would have been unbelievable. It was nice having them out here, giving each of them a jersey and having them get to run around and have a good time. They also got to learn about what we do everyday, and they had fun doing it."
As soon as the kids arrived, the players led them into the locker room, where each kid had a locker with his very own Rangers jersey hanging up. Each child put on the jersey before being divided into teams for the scavenger hunt.
The squads consisted of five kids plus one Rangers player and a member of the coaching staff. The teams received clues that prompted them to visit various members of the Rangers training staff to learn their roles --a unique take on the traditional tour of the facility.
"This whole experience is just ‘Wow,’" said Walter Jackson, a social therapist at Children's Village. "It's something good for them, it's a great experience for them to get out and meet some new people. Their favorite part was definitely the scavenger hunt, and it was beneficial for them to be social with these adults."
The children clearly agreed with Jackson.
"I liked the scavenger hunt," said 15-year old Devon, proudly showing off his new Rangers jersey. "It was cool. We did some exercises and riding on the bikes. They said to go faster and then stop, but I wasn't gonna stop! So the hunt was cool. I was with Coach Perry (Pearn) and Scott (Gomez). They were nice. They were cool."
Gomez said he had just as much fun as the kids.
"Scoring big goals is great, but being able to light up a kid's face, that's what it's all about," said Gomez. "It's always great to be able to give back to the community."
Girardi agreed, saying the experience really made an impression on him.
"This was great. As soon as we walked in the door, the kids' eyes lit up and they were ready to get going," said the second-year Rangers defenseman. " It's great for them to see what goes on here at the Rangers' Training Center. To see the trainers and all the equipment guys and the rest of the behind the scenes stuff that people don't get to see, for them, was really something special."
Right before the kids left, Renney gathered everyone and informed them that they had all been invited to attend an upcoming Rangers game at The Garden. That capped off a truly special day for all parties involved, and a day that 20 lucky children will surely remember for the rest of their lives.