DETROIT — In order to inspire others, one must be inspired first.
When Niklas Kronwall attended an event for Random Acts of Kindness, a guest speaker’s words would strike a nerve with the Red Wings defenseman and inspire him to help others with his player initiative called Kronner’s Corner.
Anthony Ianni, a former college basketball player for Michigan State University, shared his story of being diagnosed with autism and the struggles he faced during his life at an event with Kronwall in attendance.
“When I heard his story, it really touched me and a lot of people feel the same way when they hear him talk,” Kronwall said. “That made me want to be a part of it.”
Through Kronner’s Corner, the Stockholm, Sweden, native has hosted a family with an autistic child at every Wings home game since the 2012-13 season. Partnered with Autism Awareness of Michigan, Kronwall hopes to inspire children and their families by exposing them to the game of hockey.
“What’s really gratifying is to meet the parents, have their kids at the game, to hear that their kids have never been able to do something like this in the past,” Kronwall said. “Now, they have an interest for hockey and they get down here, they get to watch the game and how much they enjoy it.”
Kronwall welcomed the birth of his first child during last season’s playoffs. Having a little one at home helps keep things into perspective for the young father.
“It really does,” he said. “There’s so many people out there with things going on and to be able to do something and be a part of Autism Alliance of Michigan, what they’ve done over the last few years is unbelievable how many people they’ve helped and how many things they’ve passed. Basically, just spread the awareness.”
Autism Awareness of Michigan sets out to lead unprecedented collaboration that will improve the quality of life for individuals with autism and their loved ones through education, comprehensive services, coordinated advocacy, dedication to community and navigation. The long-term vision is to ensure high-quality services, remove roadblocks and create opportunities for all individuals impacted by autism so that they may lead purposeful and fulfilling lives.
Inspired by the efforts of others, Kronwall utilizes his platform as a hockey player to provide others with a unique experience. He does his part in giving back and inspiring others by sharing a game he loves with those less fortunate.
“It’s not all the time I get to meet them, but just if I can donate some time for this family to get away from their everyday life where they might have some troubles here and there,” he said. “Get away from all that for a night and just have something to enjoy. For me, I’m just happy to be a part of this organization because it really is unbelievable what they’ve done.“