DETROIT -- Although the Detroit Red Wings have wrapped up their 2020-21 campaign and started their summer vacations, players are still generously giving their time to the community and putting smiles on children's faces in metro Detroit.
While the team couldn't make its annual team visit to DMC Children's Hospital of Michigan during the holidays due to protocols surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, Red Wings forward Sam Gagner wanted to make sure those children didn't go a full year without seeing their favorite Hockeytown stars, so Gagner and the Wings' community impact team got creative.
On Thursday, May 20, Gagner used the Omni Lab robot that was in place at Little Caesars Arena throughout the season for the virtual Fan of the Game and the Youth Skater of the Game initiatives to visit three special hematology/oncology patients at the Children's Hospital and brighten their day with a little Hockeytown hospitality.
"This past year taught us to think differently about how we brighten the days of our youngest Red Wings fans in need," said Red Wings and Tigers director of community impact Kevin Brown. "Even during a pandemic, we knew there had to be a way to keep the team's decades-long tradition of visiting the Children's Hospital of Michigan going.
"With a little help from one of our newest teammates (a telepresence robot), Sam Gagner was able to safely deliver Red Wings joy to young patients and their families virtually."
Using the Omni Lab robot, Gagner was virtually brought into the hospital to spend some quality time with 6-year-old Charlie, 12-year-old Payton and 22-year-old Tate, who are all huge Red Wings fans.
Payton's father, Howard, said his daughter, who's a youth hockey player, was delighted to have a chance to talk one-on-one with a player on her favorite NHL team.
"Life is all about helping people and the special moments with family and friends," Howard said. "By organizing this visit, the Detroit Red Wings and Children's Hospital of Michigan gave us the opportunity to share a special moment with family which is truly what matters in life."
The Red Wings also provided each of the patients that Gagner visited with a gift bag filled with special Hockeytown items and provided Red Wings blankets and Teddy Bears to the hospital to distribute to other youth patients.
"We're proud of our longstanding commitment to the DMC Children's Hospital of Michigan," Brown said. "Whether a child and their family are playing outside in the Red Wings Play Zone or experiencing a surprise visit from their favorite player, the Red Wings are honored to be a positive part of each child's journey when they visit the hospital."