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Los Angeles Kings Honored with Make-a-Wish Foundation’s “Power of a Wish” Award

Pearson, Toffoli, and the Kings were recognized last week for their years of involvement with the LA chapter.

Craig T. Mathew and Greg Grudt/Mathew Imaging

Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli have formed a formidable partnership on the ice over the last few years, but they’ve also developed into a formidable duo in the community. Given that they’re on the Los Angeles Kings, though, they certainly aren’t the first to make an impact with their charity work. That’s why the team were honored at last week’s Make-a-Wish Gala in Hollywood. As announced in the press release:

The Los Angeles Kings will receive the first ever Power of a Wish Award which recognizes an organization for its outstanding dedication to corporate social responsibility and its commitment to caring for the communities in which it lives and serves. Make-A-Wish Greater Los Angeles selected the LA Kings for this honor because of the team’’s many years of philanthropy, wish granting and involvement helping to further the Make-A-Wish mission.

On Wednesday, Pearson and Toffoli, along with Kings Chief Operating Officer Kelly Cheeseman and (naturally) mascot Bailey, visited the Hollywood Palladium to accept the award on behalf of the Kings.

Craig T. Mathew and Greg Grudt/Mathew Imaging

Sure, Robert Downey, Jr. may have been the biggest star on the red carpet, but Pearson and Cheeseman stopped to talk to the humble Kings bloggers, so who was really the main attraction? At any rate, Pearson brushed off the recognition of his commitment to the cause. “When you’re asked to do stuff like this, and it’s obviously for a good cause, it’s pretty hard to say no... I was fortunate enough to be a part of something with Make-a-Wish we did a month ago, and it’s pretty cool to be a part of and see what it can do for all these young kids.”

Though he’d appeared at plenty of community events as part of the Kings, that event at Toyota Sports Center was his first direct experience with the Make-a-Wish Foundation. “I’m kind of a newbie around here, but the Kings have been around doing it for ten years or so, so they’re not new to anything,” Pearson noted. “It’s just cool to be asked to be part of something like this.” He also pointed out that Toffoli was glad to come, although he’d been asked on rather short notice: “Ty’s really into doing this kind of stuff.” One of the 50 kids who attended that event at Toyota Sports Center six weeks earlier was Tatiana, who helped present the Power of a Wish Award to the Kings.

Cheeseman, of course, isn’t a newbie; he’s been with the Kings for over a decade and he’s gotten to see some of the kids who connected with the Kings so long ago grow. Cheeseman pointed out the other child who helped present the Power of a Wish Award to the Kings, William. “You see something like tonight... where a kid like Will is being honored, who was connected with Dustin many years ago, and he was ill at that time. You see him growing up and that’s special for us to see.” William had been diagnosed with leukemia when he met Dustin Brown six years ago; on Wednesday he got an ovation as he recalled beating the disease onstage at the Palladium. The previous Thursday, he’d been reunited with Brown after the Kings’ 4-3 win over Arizona.

When asked about Toffoli and Pearson, Cheeseman was quick to praise the two and the rest of the team. “These guys… they’re true professionals. Los Angeles and New York and the big cities create opportunities like this and we truly believe that our goal is to grow the sport of hockey. Luc and myself and our ownership, we believe in giving our players the opportunity to do this. And when they can be successful on the ice and still be able to come out to events like this and make a presence in the community, that’s important.”

“You can’t just be here trying to sell tickets and win games... The Kings Care Foundation is the backbone of our organization, so we’re here and here to stay, a lot because of what we’ve done with the community.”

And in case you questioned whether the players themselves care about this stuff? Quietly and without fanfare, during the evening’s fundraising portion, Toffoli raised his card to pledge $5000 to the Make-a-Wish Foundation.