Helping Charities is Like Icing on the Cake for the Everblades
Charity in the Community
The Florida Everblades have been a thread in the fabric of Southwest Florida for more than twenty years. That thread is woven into the community in many ways, charity being a big one. During the 2017-18 season, the Everblades donated $252,850 to local charities, and have given nearly $1 million in the past five seasons.
Teddy Bear Toss
One of the biggest and most popular annual fundraisers takes place this month, the Teddy Bear Toss. Fans attend the game with their teddies in tow and when the Everblades score their first goal the arena goes crazy. It rains stuffed animals as attendees toss them onto the ice.
Various charities collect the cuddly creatures for holiday gifts, however, a few are always held back. Chris Palin, Executive VP of Business Development explains, “The Monday after the event, the Everblades staff and players go to the children’s hospital to deliver the teddy bears. Not only is it a good event at the game and good for staff and team building, but also it’s really humbling. You think you’re having a bad day and then go to a hospital and don’t realize how good you have it.”
He adds, “To see the smiles on kids’ faces is worth it. This is our biggest event and it’s fabulous all the way around.”
When not on the road, practicing, or playing home games, you’ll often see Everblades players donating their time at charitable events. While it’s not a requirement, it speaks to the character of the men the hockey team recruits.
“At our level as a team, players have more of an understanding of what it takes to be a well-rounded athlete, to give back to the community,” says Palin. A well-rounded player is exactly one of the things the Everblades coaching staff looks for when filling their roster each season.
East Coast Hockey League
The Florida Everblades are part of ECHL or East Coast Hockey League. It would be equivalent to the AA designation in baseball. They are an affiliate of the Charlotte Checkers in the AHL, and the Carolina Hurricanes in the NHL.
Players take to the ice for 72 games in a season that runs from October through April. In their 21 years in Southwest Florida the Everblades only missed the playoffs one time and in 2012 the team won the Kelly Cup, the ECHL Championship.
Although the Teddy Bear Toss is the signature event this time of year, if you take a look at the Everblades calendar you will see it is full of activities that give back. The team partners with sponsors and charities for monthly jersey auctions and programs such as Blades Backers, which provides 8,000 tickets to underprivileged children and their families.
Pink in the Rink
February is one of the next big events; Pink in the Rink. Radiology Regional parks it’s Mobile Mammo bus outside of the arena for fans to tour and the money raised helps pay for breast screenings for women and men in Southwest Florida who might not be able to afford them.
In association with Pink in the Rink, Palin is hoping to bring back Hockey in Heels. It’s like a Hockey 101 girls’ night. Those who attend learn about the game and its rules, meet some of the players and even tour their locker room.
Keep it Local
All of the charities the Everblades supports are local; the money raised stays in Southwest Florida.
Even when there are no special events, there are special weekly promotions. Palin says, “We pride ourselves in providing an environment that is fun and provides entertainment for the entire family.”
For example, there is a free tailgate party every Saturday before home games where fans enjoy food, live entertainment, and a bounce house for the kids. Youth hockey exhibitions highlight the fun on Fridays when kids also eat free in the Breakaway Sports Pub. In addition, it’s bottomless popcorn night.
Wednesday’s specials also incorporate college students and young professionals who might be on a budget but want a fun night out. It’s $2 night where hotdogs, beer, and wine are only $2 all night long.
Palin says about attending an Everblades game, “It’s an extremely great value for the money. We strive to put on great game presentations, so whether the team wins or loses, we’ve provided a great night of entertainment.”
Add the element of giving back and it is indeed a recipe for success.
For more information about the Florida Everblades, upcoming games and ticket sales, please go to FloridaEverblades.com.