Calgary Flames forward Mikael Backlund is known for giving it his all on the ice, but off the ice he has nothing but heart, too.
The NHLer is throwing his support behind Calgary charity Parachutes for Pets to help kids keep their furry friends during hard times and lower income folks with pets cover veterinary bills.
Backlund is doing it for deeply personal reasons, too. His family lost their beloved dog, Lily, to cancer in January.
“Lily was a constant companion to Mikael and Frida’s toddler and was a perfect example of the bond a child and their pet can have,” the charity’s founder Melissa David said in a statement this week.
And so, Lily’s Legacy was born to help keep children and their pets stay together if times get tough.
Backlund backed the startup organization from the beginning.
“I want to help them to get this thing kickstarted for them,” he explained. “I love my dogs. I love animals in general. At times they’re helpless so any way we can help them, I’m all for it.”
Mikael Backlund is helping raise funds for @ParachutesP! Donate $20+ to their GoFundMe page for a chance to win lower bowl tickets to tomorrow's game!— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) January 31, 2020
Donate now: https://t.co/rXgIylT6tN
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Originally from Sweden, and playing for the Flames since 2008, Backlund knows a thing or two about northern climates and hopes to do his part to help those who may not have a place to call home.
“I think Calgary’s a cold place to live and if we can help some homeless people and homeless animals to get shelter I think that’s great,” Backlund said in January in support of the charity. “Also, to help the less fortunate people with some vets costs, it’s really good.”
Backlund posted a photo of himself and Lily on her 9th birthday in November.
“We fight together with you. Lily has been battling nose cancer for over a year now and is still doing pretty good,” he posted on Instagram.
Parachutes for Pets has been raising money to help families hurting financially. The need became particularly acute during the pandemic.
During its Christmas pet hamper campaign, organizers found kids struggling to keep their pets. In the midst of turmoil on the home front, many children have had to say goodbye to their dogs or cats, the group said.
During this winter’s prolonged cold snap in the Calgary region, the need for help became further apparent.
“In January we housed over 50 people with their Pets temporarily that had nowhere to go otherwise,” the charity noted.
Backlund just wants to do his part to help animals — and their human families.
Because pets are a big part of his family, too.