What an incredible use of downtime for the Nashville Predators. First, it's not uncommon to find members of the team frequenting Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, visiting with patients and lifting spirits in an otherwise difficult time.
Preds players may not be able to make those same rounds in person at the moment, but the COVID-19 pandemic isn't preventing them from checking in with their friends and making sure those on the front lines are taken care of.
On Friday, the 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund presented by Twice Daily, created by Preds goaltender Pekka Rinne and former Predators Captain Shea Weber, provided a total of 600 meals from Chick-fil-A to doctors, nurses and staff working at Children's Hospital.
Those meals came in addition to a number of virtual visits over the past couple of weeks made by Rinne, Kyle Turris and Austin Watson. Through the magic of video chats, the trio of Preds have been able to interact with patients just as they would in person.
Then things got incredible.
Over the course of the last six weeks, $2.7 million has been raised and will be delivered to help address tornado relief efforts and those impacted by COVID-19 through the collaborative efforts of the Predators, the Predators Foundation, Bridgestone Arena and the Ford Ice Centers.
"A community's strength comes through during and after misfortune and the response in the last 45 days has spoken volumes about our Middle Tennessee community," Predators President and CEO Sean Henry said.
"Commitment to our community has been a cornerstone of our franchise and we are focused on doing everything possible to help rebuild neighborhoods and provide resources and assistance that will allow all of us to return to a sense of normalcy as quickly and safely as possible."
Middle Tennessee Tornado Relief
- Bridgestone Arena opened its doors to the Middle Tennessee community the day after the devastating tornadoes and served lunch to many who were impacted by the storm.
- Predators, Bridgestone Arena, and Ford Ice staff were encouraged to volunteer in assisting with storm clean-up efforts, and Preds players assisted in the collection of essential supplies after the team's return from a road game.
- The Predators and Bridgestone Arena generated $250,000 for the Community Fund of Middle Tennessee, including a generous donation from Chairman Herb Fritch and his wife Barbara. Many members of the hockey community also extended a helping hand and made generous, impactful donations, including the NHL, Craig and Helen Leipold, the Minnesota Wild, the Dallas Stars, St. Louis Blues, Chicago Blackhawks, Florida Panthers, Florida Everblades and Milwaukee Admirals. Another part of these funds came from Bridgestone Arena contributing a portion of the proceeds from the early March Dan + Shay shows at the arena.
- Bridgestone Arena and the Ford Ice Centers in Antioch and Bellevue collected three truckloads of tornado relief supplies.
- The organization created and sold Nashville Strong t-shirts, sweatshirts, stickers & posters, designated a game-night auction and used proceeds from the "Preds & Threads Fashion Show presented by Dillard's, the Mall at Green Hills and King Jewelers" silent auction as another way to contribute to tornado relief.
- These efforts and others have generated an additional $250,000 that will be invested by the organization in relief efforts in East Nashville, North Nashville, Mt. Juliet/Lebanon and Cookeville/ Putnam county.
COVID-19 Relief and Response
- Following the news that the SEC Tournament was canceled, concerts and shows were postponed and the NHL season was put on pause, Predators ownership, players, coaches and management quickly came together to create a $1 million fund to ensure Bridgestone Arena event-night staff would be paid for canceled events and postponed Predators games.
- The Predators organization has made a $100,000 contribution to the Mayor's Relief Fund.
- The Predators and Predators Foundation hosted a blood drive at two local hotels on April 1. With promotional help and participation from Predators staff members, the blood drive delivered 113 units of blood that will be used to help 339 people.
- The Predators have launched the "Feed the Frontline" program in conjunction with the organization's partners to produce and the #eatwithus campaign to deliver meals to those on the frontlines of the COVID-19 fight, including Metro Nashville Police precincts and the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Also making personal contributions to this endeavor are Head Coach John Hynes and his wife Sarah, General Manager David Poile and his wife Elizabeth Poile, President and CEO Sean Henry and his wife Tracey, and broadcaster Terry Crisp and his wife Sheila.
- Throughout the month of April, the Predators Foundation will be distributing $700,000 to 168 area charitable and community service organizations through their annual grant program, with many of the receiving organizations being negatively affected by either, or both, the tornadoes and COVID-19. Organizations receiving the grants were permitted to reallocate funds to switch from programmatic requests submitted at the time their applications were due to things that became emergent priorities in the midst of the devastation of the tornadoes and COVID-19 pandemic, such as operational expenses and salaries.
- The Predators Foundation has earmarked an additional $200,000 to tornado relief and COVID-19 impact efforts, with the specific use of those funds set to be allocated at a future date.
Predators Player Relief Involvement
In addition to immediately assisting with tornado relief efforts following the team's return to Nashville from a road game, several Predators players and their families have made a positive impact on the community during this time:
- Predators Captain Roman Josi and his wife Ellie donated $20,000 to Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee; Roman and Ellie also made a $20,000 contribution to Nashville-based organization Home Street Home.
- Josi, Pekka Rinne, Ryan Johansen and Matt Duchene have established a fund at two Dunkin' locations in Nashville (Elliston Place and 21st Avenue) to serve hospital workers who show their employee ID badge.
- Former Predators Captain Mike Fisher will designate a portion of the proceeds from his inaugural "CATCHIN' DEERS Mike Fisher Celebrity Sporting Clay Shoot presented by Implement Now" to aid individuals affected by the tornadoes and COVID-19 outbreak.
"Through these initiatives and partnerships, we are able to assist the hundreds of event-staff members who make Bridgestone Arena so successful, provide financial resources to hundreds of organizations that provide critical services throughout our market, show our appreciation to the essential operations and personnel during a crisis and help rebuild neighborhoods and communities in Middle Tennessee," Henry said. "We hope and encourage others to join in offering resources and assistance as our community shows we truly are 'Nashville Strong.'"