Atlanta Thrashers forward Eric Boulton and defenseman Garnet Exelby have been named the 2009 recipients of the Gilner-Reeves Community Service Award, according to Executive Vice President and General Manager Don Waddell. Boulton and Exelby will receive the award during an on-ice ceremony prior to this evening’s game against the Washington Capitals at 7 p.m.
The award, presented annually since the Thrashers’ 1999-2000 inaugural season, is named in honor of Stephen Gilner and Steve Reeves, two Cobb County police officers killed in the line of duty in 1999. It is given to the Thrashers player who not only has made an impact on the Atlanta community, but is willing to commit his efforts and talents above and beyond the call of duty.
Gilner's wife, Elisa, daughter, Nikki, and his sister, Vicky, will be joined by Waddell to present the award. In recognition of the award, the Atlanta Thrashers Foundation will also contribute $10,000 in the players’ names to a Georgia children’s charity.
During the course of the 2008-09 season, Boulton and Exelby participated in numerous team-related community outreach programs throughout the Atlanta area. Earlier this year, both players and their teammates visited Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to spread some holiday cheer to kids by distributing Thrashers gifts and signing autographs. Boulton and Exelby also sponsored families from the Traveler’s Aid Adopt-A-Family program, which provides low-income families with new clothes, toys and food during the holiday season. They also have served as instructors in local youth hockey events, including the Atlanta Thrashers Summer Hockey Camp. In addition to their joint efforts, both take part in several individual projects as well.
Boulton is actively involved in Garth Brooks’ Teammates for Kids Foundation, where NHL players donate money for specific statistics that they accumulate, including goals, assists, shots and sometimes penalty minutes. In February, Boulton took part in the opening of the Child Life Zone, a state-of-the-art educational and therapeutic environment, at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. He also devoted his time to the Agape Community Center, an organization aimed at building a community and strengthening local families. He helped distribute backpacks filled with school supplies to children and present a $10,000 check in support of the center’s GOGIRLGO! program. On April 15, he will be hosting a Wii Party at the Zone at Children’s Healthcare, where he will play video games and spend time with the children.
Exelby recently offered cooking classes to local children at the Young Chefs Academy to promote healthy eating and encourage discovery and creativity. He also took part in Right to Play, an international humanitarian organization that uses sport and play programs to improve health, develop life skills, and foster peace for children and communities in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the world. Exelby made monetary contributions to the organization based on his minutes played in a game. Additionally, he has represented the Thrashers at several youth functions, including their Youth Hockey Banquet.
Tickets for all regular-season Thrashers games at Philips Arena can be purchased by visiting atlantathrashers.com, calling (800) 326-4000, or by visiting the Philips Arena Box Office or any Ticketmaster Ticket Outlet.
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