On Sunday I had the pleasure of attending the annual Carolina Hurricanes Skate with the Canes.
Skate with the Canes is a fundraiser for the Kids 'N Community Foundation, with proceeds benefitting many local organizations through KNC grants. 27 organizations were recipients of grants in fall of 2011, and Sunday's event was expected to raise around $45,000 which will fund several grants this year. The event is in its 14th year and was a sell-out.
Skate with the Canes is structured around three main player interaction events, with participants and players divided into three groups rotating through each event. This year my family was in the "Blue Line" group, following is a recap of how our group divided our time.
Session 1 - Locker Room Photos. In the first session we toured the Hurricanes locker room, then posed for photos with players in the locker room and weight room. While waiting in line for photos, it's always interesting to see the changes in the locker room from one year to the next. Over the summer the locker room was repainted, and new murals of famous moments in Canes history wrap the ceiling over the lockers (example here). I also noticed that the phrase "It's not about me... it's about the guy in front of me!" has been painted over at the entrance to the ice. Nothing replaces it yet, perhaps "No Passengers" will get some air time? Also new in the locker room hallway, a framed photo honoring our 2011 Calder Cup winner.
In the locker room session we had photos taken with Chad LaRose, Bryan Allen, Tuomo Ruutu, Brian Boucher, Patrick Dwyer, Jay Harrison, and Brandon Sutter. It was exciting that Boucher had healed enough to participate in all the sessions. I was able to very briefly mention to Mr. Ruutu that I was glad to see him there.
Session 2 - Autographs. The autograph session is much like other Canes autograph events with players set up at tables for a walk-through. To create a much appreciated diversion in the autograph line, the crackerjack FSCarolinas team of John Forslund and Tripp Tracy were on hand for photos and autographs. The siren was also set up for a photo shoot, although disappointing to learn that no cranking was allowed, preserving everyone's eardrums for another day.
At our autograph tables were Jaroslav Spacek, Jeff Skinner, Tim Brent, Derek Joslin, Riley Nash, Cam Ward, Jamie McBain, and Jiri Tlusty. I'd never met Spacek before, but he really is as advertised, a jolly and delightful fellow. I think everyone in the building had a few words with Tlusty about his sweet goal against the Kings Saturday night.
Session 3 - Skate. The highlight of the event is, of course, skating with the players. For me with the camera, the skate portion involves more standing around for pictures and autographs, but for the kids it's a chance to cut loose on some pretty special ice. This year, a section around the far goal was coned off so that kids could practice skate, stick and puck drills, all supervised by Hurricanes Youth and Amateur Hockey Coordinator Shane Willis.
My photos from the event are posted in this album, along with a warning that since this is a family event, there are a lot of photos of my family in here, so it's a little like being forced to watch someone else's home movies, but it does give a better feel for the event. Several other Canes Country regulars attended as well, and hopefully they will weigh in with their comments and stories. It's a truly wonderful experience, terrific interaction with the entire Canes organization, and all for a great community cause.
Last but not least, some feedback from the organization, from twitter:
Kids 'N Community foundation:
Thanks for coming to #SkateWCanes today. YOU raised roughly $45,000 for the kids in our community. Grateful for your support!
The @canes_KNCF fulfilled 71 grants last year with an avg. grant size of $7K. #SkateWCanes will help fill at least 6 grants next month.
Knowing we have fan support is one thing, but being able to see the support and interact with the fans today was awesome. Thanks #caniacs!