Lucky Launch, presented by Sam and Ash, is the Henderson Silver Knights’ annual version of the teddy bear toss. The toys thrown onto the ice, as well as those that have been pre-donated, will be distributed through the Silver Knights donation partners and given to children in need this holiday season. Among these is Toys for Tots, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year.
To donate the toys, fans in attendance bring toys which they throw onto the ice after the Silver Knights score their first goal. The stuffed animals are then collected and distributed to children in need. Fans have also donated toys ahead of time throughout the past few weeks at donation boxes at Lifeguard Arena, The Dollar Loan Center, Sam and Ash Injury Law offices, and City National Arena.
Last year, Las Vegas Toys for Tots were able to raise 65,000 toys for 47,000 children across the Las Vegas Valley. This year, both the Silver Knights and Toys for Tots hope to increase that number.
“For me, I like being able to give back to the community,” Sergeant Jeff Dailey said. “There’s a lot of kids out there that don’t necessarily get to have the same things I did growing up, and every kid loves Christmas – and there may be some children out there that don’t get to have that experience.”
“It’s a cool event and it’s a great cause to make sure every kid has something on Christmas, because every kid should have something on Christmas,” Silver Knights forward Byron Froese added. “Just seeing the kids’ faces when they get a gift and get to open something on Christmas is such a good feeling.”
Equally important to both is that Toys for Tots Las Vegas is focused on helping the immediate Las Vegas Valley.
“Their toys don’t ever leave this community. We are Las Vegas Toys for Tots, representing Henderson and Boulder City as well. Every dollar that’s spent, every toy that’s donated – it all goes to children in this community,” Sergeant Dailey continued.
“Not being from here, you come into this area and – I have kids myself – it’s such a family oriented community,” Froese said. “So it’s awesome to see this event give back to the kids in this community and it’s such a good local, family oriented community.”
Lucky Launch remains a crucial part of getting these toys into the hands of Las Vegas families in need.
“We’re pushing the fact that this is the 75th year for Toys for Tots – it’s a pretty remarkable year for us. The organization is 75 years strong and we always want more people participating. Our goal is always to reach more children and increase the number of toys donated,” said Sergeant Dailey.
And what about the famous “Lucky Launch goal” itself, that triggers the shower of toys onto the ice? Players and coaches alike are eager to get the festivities underway.
“Obviously you want to get off to a quick start – to score and see the teddy bears fly. It’s really cool and obviously for a great cause, if you’re lucky enough to be that guy and score that goal. I did in junior one year. It’s pretty fun and a cool experience, everybody loves it,” said forward Mason Primeau.
“I’d like to say myself, that’d be pretty cool. But I’m not sure who’s going to score the goal. It doesn’t really matter as long as we get off to a lead right away.”
“I would love to get it myself, but if I can’t get it, I’d love to see Spencer Foo get it. He’s hot right now,” Froese added.
Head Coach Manny Viveiros knows the players are excited not just to be scoring, but also to be participating in the event.
“You know it’s going to be a full crowd. And on top of that, our players know – it adds a little bit of excitement. I don’t know if any of our players will admit to it, but there’s an extra step in their game, there’s no question about it,” he said.
“When I was in Spokane, and I was coaching there, the president came down before the game. He jokingly said to me ‘Manny, can you please make sure your guys don’t score in the first minute. Because a lot of times, there’s a lot of people that come in a little bit later and we want to make sure that everybody’s in our seats.’
“I said I’ll guarantee that – I won’t let us score until the third or fourth minute mark. We scored in the first 30 seconds of the game. The teddy bear toss ended up being about 25 minutes long. But for me, the sooner the better!”