Between the COVID-19 outbreak and tornadoes wreaking havoc on the southeast region, Middle Tennesseans are trying to find the silver lining in such a strange and dark time.
After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the NHL’s 2019-20 season was put on hold, the Nashville Predators decided to reach out to help their local community.
In the last six weeks since disaster swept across the state, the Predators, their partners and their fans banded together to raise relief funds for the locals.
In total, the Predators, the Predator’s Foundation, Ford Ice Centers and Bridgestone Arena were able to raise $2.7 million.
The money that was raised will be donated to Tennesseans who are facing what the tornadoes left behind and to those who have been impacted by COVID-19.
“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 in a news release.
“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.”
According to the National Weather Service, seven tornadoes that touched down the night of March 2 and into the early morning of March 3 devastated the community and left 25 dead.
The Predators immediately welcomed those impacted by the storm into Bridgestone Arena and served them pizza.
Dear Smashville Fam,
We love you and we want to help. We will be serving pizza at @BrdgstoneArena beginning at 11 a.m. for all those affected by last night’s storm. Please feel welcome to come and bring anyone who needs it. ??
— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) March 3, 2020
The Predators and Bridgestone Arena quickly raised $250,000 in relief funds for Middle Tennessee residents from donations made by Chairman Herb Fritch and his wife Barbara, the NHL, the Minnesota Wild, the Dallas Stars, St. Louis Blues, Chicago Blackhawks, Florida Panthers, Florida Everblades, Milwaukee Admirals and other members of the NHL community.
In addition to the generous donations made by the hockey community, the team organized a “Nashville Strong” donation page for the areas of the community that are still in need.
If you are able and willing, please consider donating to those still struggling in our community.
— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) April 3, 2020
Only days after the twisters left a path of destruction through Middle Tennessee, the novel coronavirus made its way into the area.
On March 12, the NHL put the 2019-20 season on hold to slow the spread of the virus; on top of the season suspension, Bridgestone Arena also canceled or postponed upcoming events.
According to the Predators’ news release, players, owners, coaches and management pooled $1 million in an effort to pay the Bridgestone Arena event staff who would have worked the canceled and postponed events.
“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.'”
The team also saw a unique opportunity to serve the community after almost 2,700 blood drives across the country were canceled due to growing coronavirus concerns, resulting in a shortage of nearly 86,000 fewer donations than normal.
On April 1, the Predators decided to organize a blood drive, following the Red Cross’ safety protocols, that acquired 113 units of blood which will go to help 339 people that have been impacted by COVID-19.
Our friends at @RedCrossTN need our help.
The need for blood donations is increasing every day. Please consider signing up for our April 1 blood drive at one of these locations!
— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) March 26, 2020
Some of the players have also gone above and beyond, with the team’s captain Roman Josi and his wife Ellie making a $20,000 donation to Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee and another $20,000 donation to Home Street Home Ministries based in Nashville.
Josi, along with three other teammates, Pekka Rinne, Ryan Johansen and Matt Duchene partnered with two Nashville Dunkin’ Donuts locations on April 8 to give front-line healthcare workers who show their badge free coffee.
To all healthcare workers, thank you. Let us get your @dunkindonuts coffee this morning.
— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) April 8, 2020
Additionally, the Predators Foundation plans to donate $700,000 from its annual grant program to 168 different charity organizations in the area for both tornado and COVID-19 relief.
Another $200,000 for relief will also be distributed on a later date.
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