This past week, Chicago Blackhawks star defenceman Duncan Keith became the latest prominent NHL figure to step up his donations during the current COVID-19 pandemic. The 36-year-old has teamed up with local restaurant Gibsons Italia to create and deliver meals to all family members of children staying at the nearby Ronald McDonald House Charities in Chicago and Northwest Indiana.
The food – prepared by Gibsons – arrives in carry-out bags and delivery trays grace with ‘DK’ logos. Distributed via a luggage cart, Keith continues to ensure that the well-being of the family members of those spending the night at Ronald McDonald House is taken care of, in not having to worry about their next meal, during such difficult times. 162 families are currently under the care of Ronald McDonald House in the local area.
Through his charitable body Keith Relief, founded in 2011, the decorated NHL veteran remains dedicated to “alleviate the financial and emotional burdens of families and individuals suffering from medical crisis” (DuncanKeith.com). Working alongside the Chicago Blackhawks Foundation, Keith Relief is a partner organization to Ronald McDonald House Charities.
“We are happy to continue our commitment to the families staying at Ronald McDonald House Chicago with a catered lunch from our friends at Gibsons,” Keith said. “Keith Relief is proud to support the local service industry here in Chicago and of course our valued partner Ronald McDonald House. We will continue to help the families”
Over the years, Keith has teamed up with popular country acts to host a number of charitable concerts with all proceeds going towards the work of Keith Relief. Over $750K has been raised for his foundation through the seven different performances. LoCash and Randy Houser headlined the most recent shows.
Born in Manitoba’s capital in 1983, Keith spent the first 15 years of his life living in four cities: Winnipeg, nearby Fort Frances, ON., as well as British Columbia’s Summerland and Penticton. He has three Stanley Cups, two Olympic gold medals, two Norris trophies and one Conn Smythe trophy to his name.
Despite officially moving away from Manitoba before he could even form many memories, Keith often found himself returning to the province in the summers as a child, spending considerable time in the Lester Beach area. With a decades-long history of family members’ cottages in Manitoba’s ‘beach country’, Keith honoured his childhood tradition by bringing the Stanley Cup to the beach following the completion of the 2015 postseason.
With no other place of significance within the province to celebrate his ‘day with the Cup’, Keith chose the elevated seawall of Lester Boulevard’s Nathan and Sabina Jacob. Keith’s convertible was parked, a towel was spread, and the Stanley Cup was lifted high – adjacent to an old fishing boat – in front of roughly 100 beach-goers.
Keith isn’t even the first Blackhawk with Manitoba ties to make some noise in the form of a charitable donation during the COVID-19 pandemic. None other than ‘Hawks captain – and fellow Winnipeg product – Jonathan Toews earlier donated $100K to the Chicago Community COVID-19 Research Fund. His donation went towards nonprofit organizations within Chicago that support the ‘most vulnerable’ people within individual neighbourhood communities.
About Ronald McDonald House Chicago:
“We exist so families can get better, together,” the mission statement reads. “Every day, families face the emotional and economic toll of having a child in the hospital. Together with the support of our community, we provide housing to keep families together, and provide a comfortable, warm, and loving home away from home. We put the needs of the children and families first. We collaborate with community partners. We honour our heritage and founders. We operate with accountability and transparency. We invest in the growth and development of our people.”
In 2019 alone, Ronald McDonald House served 18,209 children, 15,283 families, while saving families a total of $9.7 million on the work of over 140,000 volunteer hours. Ronald McDonald House Chicago’s Meals From the Heart campaign was put on pause during the COVID-19 pandemic, which prompted Keith and the Keith Relief foundation with the idea of donating meals to those family members staying with their sick children.
More information on the Meals From the Heart program can be found here. While information on Ronald McDonald House Chicago can be accessed here. A link to the Keith Relief website is listed below.