The San Jose Sharks are more than just a hockey team. They are a community stretching far beyond the reaches of SAP Center or even the San Jose city limits. So when the community needed help after a mass shooting occurred at the popular Gilroy Garlic Festival, the organization answered the call.
And that included the players.
Logan Couture - who would be named captain of the Sharks later that week - led a group of players, alumni, and broadcasters in organizing two fundraisers to collect money for the Gilroy Foundation, which assists those affected by the shooting.
"If we can help people with their day-to-day life away from the game of hockey and put a smile on their face when they need it, then we're happy to do it," Couture said.
Teammates Kevin Labanc, Tomas Hertl, Erik Karlsson, and Brenden Dillon, alumni Jonathan Cheechoo and Jamie Baker, and radio play-by-play broadcaster Dan Rusanowsky joined Couture by signing autographs at the Gilroy Veterans Hall before hosting a dinner and auction at The Milias Restaurant.
Scores of Sharks fans lined up down the street to attend the ticketed events, thankful for the support of Team Teal.
"The biggest thing is the smiles and the thanks yous," Couture said of the attendees of the events. "We don't need that, we're here to try to help out, but just to see how happy people were to be here and we're happy that we were here."
Overall, the two events raised more than $42,000 for the Gilroy Foundation - $21,000 through tickets and donations, and additional $21,000 after the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce hosted a raffle and auction at the dinner event. But more than that, there was the support of their hometown heroes that the community of Gilroy appreciated. Upward of 140 people attended the autograph session, while 100 guests joined the Sharks for dinner.
The Sharks organization would like to give a special thanks to Adam Sanchez and Ann Zyburra for hosting at The Milias Restaurant; Christine West, director of the Gilroy Veteran's Hall and location of the autograph session; Mark Turner, the President and CEO of the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce; Michael Hawk for donating his photography services; and Mike Hernandez, who was the DJ at the restaurant.
In addition to this fundraiser, both the Sharks and the San Jose Barracuda have announced other plans to aid those affected by the tragedy. Click here to learn more.