Panthers Defensemen Shave Heads for Charity

A pair of Florida Panthers defensemen shaved their heads Monday night to help raise money, and awareness, for children battling cancer.

Erik Gudbranson and Mike Weaver had their hair shaved off at Duffy’s Sports Grill in Plantation in front of a crowd of over 100, including the founder and chairman of the St. Baldrick’s foundation, Enda McDonnell, who now makes his home in Boca Raton. He started the foundation on St. Patrick’s Day in 2000, in New York.

“We started St. Baldrick’s with the goal of getting 17 people to shave their heads on the 17th of March and raise $17,000,” McDonnell said. “We ended up raising $100,000, and the whole St. Baldricks phenomenon was born. Since 2000, we’ve had over 200,000 people shave their heads and raised over $120 million in the process.”

It took no more than 10 minutes for the pair to go bald. Five other donors also shaved off their hair Monday.

For Gudbranson, the event hit close to home.His brother won his fight with pediatric cancer.

“The ownership asked me to do this, and it was an absolute no brainer,” Gudbranson said. “I wouldn’t have thought twice about it. It’s for a great cause, we’re going to raise a lot of money. And it’s going to be great to see some smiles on people’s faces.

“It’s amazing to see what shaving your head does for these little kids. I remember my brother saying I looked just like him when I first did it when he was first diagnosed. If we can bring a couple smiles to those kids faces and a little hope, that’s what we’re aiming for.”

Weaver does not have a personal connection to the cause, but has strong feelings for it.

“It’s a great cause,” Weaver said. “At the beginning of the season, we have a couple of options, and I thought this was a good cause. You can see the support we have here. It’s the least we could do, just shave our head. During the holidays you go to hospitals and see the kids. It’s tough. These are little things we are able to do on our off days. It’s fun to do.

“It’s all about our Panther organization. We’re all about family. We’re all about giving back to the community. Little things like this. On your day off, to come out here and enjoy it with the fans and raise some money. It’s the little things that really count.”

The Panthers Foundation raised over $10,000 at the event and donations are still being accepted.

After the event, goalie José Theodore and defenseman Brain Campbell met with fans at the final Panthers Live event of the season. They answered questions from the Panthers faithful in a press conference format on the Panthers Patio. Afterwords, the two signed autographs and posed for photos with fans. This is just one of the many events the Florida Panthers Foundation and the Street Team host throughout the year.

The Panthers, along with the Sunrise Fire Department, will host National Fallen Firefighters Foundation Survivors Night during Wednesday’s game against the Ottawa Senators. According to a press release:

“Approximately 60 members of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and Sunrise Fire Rescue will attend Wednesday night’s game, while the Sunrise Fire Rescue Honor Guard will present the colors of the United States for the pregame national anthem.”

For more information on the Florida Panthers Foundation, go to http://panthers.nhl.com/club/microhome.htm?location=/PanthersFoundation. For a complete list of Panthers’ community events, click on http://panthers.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=64145.

If you are interested in donating to St. Baldrick’s, attending a head-shaving event, or would like to start your own event, go to www.stbaldricks.org.

NEWS AND NOTES:

  • Jason Garrison will miss the next week to 10 days with what coach Kevin Dineen said is a “lower-body something.” He injured his lower body during Saturday’s game against the New Jersey Devils
  • The Panthers were back on the ice Tuesday morning in preparation for a battle with the seventh place Ottawa Senators Wednesday. Ottawa plays in Tampa Tuesday night.
  • Wednesday’s game is the opening of a pivotal 4-game homestand that will span just over a week. The Washington Capitals will come to town Friday night, followed by the Anaheim Ducks Sunday, before the Minnesota Wild visit South Florida next Thursday. Hockey experts may not know if the Florida Panthers are out of the playoff picture at the end of the homestand, but they could potentially gain up to a 12 point lead on Washington.
  • Ed Jovanovski did not skate with the team today, but was put through a “bag skate” after practice, indicating his return may be imminent.
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