Kyle Palmieri Foundation’s Inaugural Military Ball a Smashing Success
by John Christian Hageny / hockeyclan.com
February 26, 2019
BELLEVILLE, NJ — It’s no secret how near and dear The United States’ Military is to Kyle Palmieri’s heart.
This summer, the New Jersey Devils’ All-Star right winger, now in his ninth season in the NHL, and his fiancée Ashlee Casper, launched The Kyle Palmieri Foundation, a non-profit to give back to ‘those who put their lives on the line to preserve our freedoms as Americans.’
On Saturday, Feb. 23, after a lot of hard work and dedication, The Foundation hosted its first marquee event — the inaugural Military Ball — to the delight of everyone who could make it to historic Nanina’s in the Park in Belleville.
The event, graced with several active and retired military as well as Devils’ players and staff, raised money to support support three military nonprofits: Service Women’s Action Network, National Military Family Association and Pets for Vets.
“As many of you might know, supporting our military is deeply personal to me,” Palmieri, who grew up in nearby Montvale, skating with the New Jersey Devils Youth and St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City, said. “My brother-in-law, Stephen, is an Army Ranger who’s served three tours in Afghanistan and one in Iraq, and has dedicated his life to protecting and serving and our country. And my sister, Taylor, is a Sergeant and NCO in the Army National Guard — she’s here with us tonight and I cannot begin to out into words how proud I am of her.
“I’m honored to work with these great organizations and thank you all for the support provided by being here tonight,” Palmieri said. “Thank you to the men and women who have dedicated their lives to serving our country. Military service is a journey that very few are willing to take and there is nothing more admirable than stepping up and putting the well-being of your country and fellow soldiers above your own. I salute you and am honored to express my gratitude through this foundation.”
A host of NHL players, past and present, along with a few coaches, celebrities and connoisseurs were on hand and treated to a night of fine dining, drinks and dancing while bidding on a number of unique items and one-of-a-kind experiences — all to benefit the Foundation and it’s non-profits.
Team-signed Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks jerseys, autographed sticks from Jack Eichel, Taylor Hall, Patrick Kane, Clayton Keller and Auston Matthews as well as some of Palmieri’s own game-worn jerseys and gloves highlighted the many items up for bid.
“It’s been incredible to see how quickly Kyle has emerged as a natural leader for the Devils’ organization, both on and off the ice, especially in our local community,” Kevin Fox, Devils’ Senior Manager of Grassroots, who was a goalie with Palmieri on the 2007 St. Peter’s Prep team that skated for the state title that season, said.
“To see all the hard work Kyle, Ashlee, Corinne and the entire Palmieri family and so many others put into the Kyle Palmieri Foundation Military Ball to come to fruition was really special to see and I know everyone in attendance was blown away.”
Four years ago, Palmieri, who was drafted in the first round (26th overall) by the Anaheim Ducks in 2009, was traded to New Jersey in exchange for a couple of draft picks in 2015. After scoring a career-high 30 goals his first season with the Devils, Palmieri signed a five-year contract to remain with the team he represented as a PeeWee at the Quebec Tournament in 2004.
Two years ago, “Palms” created the military recognition program “Squad21” as a way of personally thanking active and veteran service members for their continued sacrifices to the country. The momentum from that program has continued to grow over the years ultimately leading to the establishment of The Kyle Palmieri Foundation this past summer.
The Foundation would also like to thank the many sponsors, including but not limited to, J Strategies Inc., Morgan Stanley, Seasons Catering and Special Events, The Venetian and Shadowbrook of Shrewsbury.
“I’ve known Kyle’s parents, Bruce and Tammy, for years — they are amazing people and I knew the close family connection to the military,” Morgan Stanley Advisor and Don Bosco Prep Assistant Coach Sean Foye said. “When I first heard Kyle and his fiancée Ashlee were starting the foundation, I was happy to offer any help I could. After attending the event, seeing the selflessness of all those involved in making the night work, I’m so happy for what they were able to accomplish.
“The hockey world has always been a close knit community — always there to help others — and Kyle and Ashlee have brought it to a whole new level,” Foye, who helped guide Don Bosco Prep to the 2019 Gordon Cup, said. “The support the event had from the Devils organization was amazing and I think it’s a true testament that so many believe in what Kyle and Ashlee are hoping to achieve. I’m sure that going forward it’s only going to grow.
As the night hit its peak, Palmieri took pause to take it all in.
“It’s for a great cause, to support our military and something that means a lot to me to see so many people come out tonight,” Palmieri said. “A lot of hard work, but it’s been a great turnout. The Devils have obviously been a very important piece in helping me put this together. Moving forward, I think it’s something with the support of the Devils and its fans we can all be proud of.”
“My late father always told me, “Those who serve our country everyday deserve the best of support from those of us who benefit from their sacrifices,” Foye said. “I believe The Kyle Palmieri Foundation’s first event got off to a great start in doing this. I was truly happy to be a small part of it and we hope to grow our role as supporters going forward.”