The Florida Everblades hockey team played the role of Santa's elves today, delivering teddy bears to kids at the Golisano Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida.
The team collected more than six thousand stuffed animals at the annual 'Teddy Bear Toss' game on December 7. When Kyle Bonis scored the team's first goal, fans launched the teddy bears onto the ice.
Bonis says, "it was cool once it went in and teddy bears were flying and kept flying. The image of it is something that will stick with me. When you see something like that and you know it's going to a good cause, it puts a smile on your face."
The players went room to room at the hospital, bringing stuffed animals and smiles to the patients. Rachel Frattarelli, mom
to 2-year-old Stella, says, "she can't do the normal things like go to Christmas parties so to have special guests come to her room, it's amazing. I love that even hockey players can be here and have their heart beats right on these kids."
The players say they enjoy it just as much as the kids. "Seeing the way the kids look at these bears, they didn't get dealt the best hand but hopefully this helps lift their spirits," says Mike Merrifield. "There's more to life than playing hockey."