NHL Players challenge fans to join and support Heart and Stroke Foundation research during the 2012 NHLPA Beard-a-thon
OTTAWA, April 4, 2012 /CNW/ - It's itchy, hairy and sometimes patchy. After the first week, you may be begging to shave it. But you do it in solidarity - and once again this spring, that playoff beard can help save a life.
For the second consecutive year, the National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) is teaming up with the Heart and Stroke Foundation (HSF) during the 2012 playoffs for its annual NHLPA Beard-a-thon. Honouring the great playoff tradition, NHL players are asking Canadians to grow beards with them (real or virtual!) to help raise funds for life-saving research.
The NHLPA and the Heart and Stroke Foundation are looking to top last year's totals in both dollars raised and the number of participating beard growers. The 2011 NHLPA Beard-a-thon's 2,037 beard growers raised nearly $200,000.
To be part of the 2012 NHLPA Beard-a-thon, fans can go to beardathon.ca or nhlpa.com, where they can pledge support for their favourite NHL player or beard grower - or sign-up to grow their own beards to promote and fundraise.
"I challenge Canadians to toss aside their razors for this great cause and grow a better playoff beard than me," says Scott Hartnell, NHLPA member and Philadelphia Flyers forward, who raised over $12,000 last year to top the leaderboard in pledges for his playoff beard. "If you can't grow a beard, please support a friend, family member, or pledge one of your favourite players!"
Several NHL players have already personally committed to 'grow hair because they care' and help raise money for the cause by participating in the 2012 NHLPA Beard-a-thon: Andrew Alberts, Keith Ballard, Alex Burrows, Marc-Andre Gragnani, Dan Hamhuis, Chris Higgins, Zack Kassian, Ryan Kesler, Maxim Lapierre, Manny Malhotra, Mason Raymond, Cory Schneider, Chris Tanev, and Dale Weise (Vancouver Canucks); Patrice Bergeron (Boston Bruins); Matt Carkner and Chris Phillips (Ottawa Senators); Pascal Dupuis (Pittsburgh Penguins); Brian Elliott (St. Louis Blues); Scott Hartnell and Max Talbot (Philadelphia Flyers); Jamal Mayers (Chicago Blackhawks); and Kyle Quincey (Detroit Red Wings).
These participating NHL players will be fundraising for the cause while growing their playoff beards, and they are challenging fans to join in collectively exceeding last year's NHLPA Beard-a-thon contributions.
"The Heart and Stroke Foundation is thrilled to once again participate in the NHLPA Beard-a-thon and we sincerely thank the NHLPA for this opportunity," says David Sculthorpe, CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation. "Canadians have a lot to grow for: heart disease and stroke take 1 in 3 Canadians before their time. Whether you don a beard every playoff season or you've never done it before - it's a great way to show you care. This year's contributions will bring us closer to our vision of healthy lives free of heart disease and stroke for all Canadians."
There is exclusive prizing for participants this year as both funds and facial hair grow:
- Raise a minimum of $25 dollars to be automatically entered to win a signed jersey
- Raise more than $500 and take home an NHLPA sweatshirt and hat
- Raise $1,000 and be entered to win the Grand Prize trip - flight for two, two nights hotel stay, two tickets to watch one of the winner's favourite NHLPA members play next season, and much more
- Raise the most dollars among all participants and receive the NHLPA Goals & Dreams Grand Prize - the opportunity to donate hockey equipment (20 complete sets valued at over $10,000) to underprivileged youth in their community, through NHLPA Goals & Dreams
"Growing a beard is synonymous with playoff hockey. Together with the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the NHLPA is challenging hockey fans to join the players in growing playoff beards again this year to raise money for a worthy cause," says Mathieu Schneider, NHLPA Special Assistant to the Executive Director and former NHL player. "This is an exciting time of year for players and fans alike. We look forward to seeing some great playoff beards throughout the spring while we aim to top last year's NHLPA Beard-a-thon fundraising total."
Schneider, a defenceman at the time with the Detroit Red Wings, was on the Detroit bench during a game against the Nashville Predators in November, 2005, sitting directly beside former NHL defenceman and teammate Jiri Fischer as Fischer's life was saved with an automated external defibrillator (AED) when he had a sudden cardiac arrest.
One hockey player and fan who puts his heart into the cause is heart attack survivor Michael Bibby.
"My family, like countless others, is very grateful for the advances that research has made thanks to the Heart and Stroke Foundation," says Bibby, a fundraiser for the Foundation who dealt with heart disease and stroke with both of his parents. At the age of 34 Bibby experienced an unusual heart attack - myopericarditis - himself. "Not only has my life been impacted, but also that of my son, who had open heart surgery at the age of four."
The tradition of growing beards during the playoffs is longstanding among NHL players - and is now practiced by players in nearly all North American hockey leagues, from major junior to minor league affiliates to NHL players. It is supported by many fans as well. It's not merely superstitious - it's a symbol that they share the passion and the spirit of the playoffs.
Last year, the dollars raised during the 2011 NHLPA Beard-a-thon enabled the Foundation's purchase and placement of 29 life-saving AEDs for local hockey arenas and communities across Canada.
Knowing the score about heart disease and stroke
- Heart disease and stroke take 1 in 3 before their time - that's more than 69,000 Canadian lives lost every year.
- Heart disease and stroke is the number one killer of women.
- More than 1.3 million people are living with some form of heart disease - and over 315,000 people are coping with the effects of stroke.
- Nine in 10 Canadians have at least one risk factor for heart disease or stroke.
- One in 10 heart attack victims die within 30 days and one in five die within one year.
- Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of hospitalizations in Canada, with almost 3 million hospitalizations a year.
- Canadian children are the first generation poised for shorter lives than their parents.
- Heart disease and stroke cost our healthcare system $20.9 billion every year.
- The good news is that 80 per cent of early onset heart disease and stroke is preventable. Fundraising for research and public awareness is one way we can make a real difference!
B-roll of NHL players talking about the NHLPA Beard-a-thon is available to the media at the following links:
2012 NHLPA Beard-at-thon PSA, including Brian Elliott (St. Louis Blues), Shea Weber (Nashville Predators), and Claude Giroux (Philadelphia Flyers) (0:42) http://youtu.be/c_IOyvtpWAU
The Heart and Stroke Foundation (heartandstroke.ca), a volunteer-based health charity, leads in eliminating heart disease and stroke and reducing their impact through the advancement of research and its application, the promotion of healthy living, and advocacy.
The National Hockey League Players' Association (nhlpa.com), established in 1967, is a labour organization whose members are the players in the NHL. The NHLPA works on behalf of the players in varied disciplines such as labour relations, product licensing, marketing, international hockey and community relations. Since 1999, NHLPA Goals & Dreams has donated more than $20-million to grassroots hockey, with more than 60,000 deserving children in 25 countries having benefited from the players' donations of hockey equipment.
To help raise funds for the Heart and stroke Foundation by participating in the NHLPA Beard-a-thon during the 2012 playoffs, visit www.beardathon.ca.
For further information:
613-569-4361 ext 318, [email protected] or
613.569 4361 ext 273, [email protected]
Andrew Wolfe NHLPA