Former UND player helps organize Nashville lunch to benefit military veteran organization
Brad Miller is a board member with 7Element, which aims to promote mental wellness among veterans and first responders through hockey and sports.
Jody Hodgson wanted to do something to leave a lasting impact in Nashville.
The general manager of Ralph Engelstad Arena didn't just want to fly in for the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game and return to Grand Forks without doing something to benefit the community.
So, Hodgson got in touch with former UND forward and defenseman Brad Miller, a board member at 7Element, which is a Nashville-based organization that aims to promote mental wellness among veterans and first responders through hockey and sports.
Hodgson and Miller spent almost two years planning an event scheduled for Friday, the day before UND's showdown against Penn State in Nashville's Bridgestone Arena.
They are hosting a luncheon, with a capacity limited to 136 people, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Friday at the Patron Platinum Club at Bridgestone Arena. It costs $92 per person and it will include a grand buffet meal featuring Nashville and Southern favorites and a preview of the game with media members. The highlight of the event is a speech and Q&A with 7Element founder Brian Bailey.
Bailey, a U.S. Army veteran who was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, has served nine combat tours and has been deployed for a total of 89 months. He created 7Element to provide camaraderie among veterans and first responders through hockey and sports, to help prevent veteran suicide and to benefit mental wellness. There are hundreds of members.
"Brian Bailey is one of the most impressive individuals that I have ever had a chance to interact with," Hodgson said. "The 7Element Athletic Fund and the veteran hockey program that he and others have created in Nashville is a remarkable program. It is incredible to see how they are using the game of hockey to enrich lives and literally heal those who need a helping hand.
"The 2021 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game in Nashville is going to be a great event and it is going to be a ton of fun for all involved, but it needs to be more than that. We want to leave something behind in Nashville and we want to do some good for those in the Nashville hockey community while we are there."
There's expected to be a silent auction or raffle of memorabilia from former UND greats at the luncheon, too.
Miller became involved with 7Element through former NHL players Hal Gill and Chris Mason, his podcast co-hosts, and he now works alongside Bailey with the Nashville Predators. Miller is the hockey operations coordinator for the team. Bailey the business operations manager.
"As soon as I met those guys and got to hear their stories, that was when it was just like, 'I want to help them any way I can,'" Miller said. "It's a really cool organization."
7Element sets up athletic events, with a special focus on hockey, for veterans and responders. It helps comp costs for ice time and playing gear for members. It also organizes other events to bring veterans and responders together.
"We want to leave something behind when we return to North Dakota and we’re proud to partner with 7Element to make sure that our fans have the opportunity to leave a lasting legacy in Nashville when we all head for home at the end of the weekend," Hodgson said. "Brian Bailey and his colleagues are the type of people who have literally gone above and beyond in their service to our country and they deserve our support."