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Elias leads charge for UNICEF outreach

Devils' forward making progress, eyes a return to practice

Wednesday, 10.28.2009 / 7:45 PM ET / News
By Eric Marin
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Elias leads charge for UNICEF outreach
Boys and girls from Newark pose for a photo with Patrik Elias (far right),  Devils Chairman/Managing Partner, Jeff Vanderbeek (Right) and Newark Mayor Cory Booker (Center) during Trick or Treat for UNICEF night prior to the game between the Buffalo Sabres and New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. October 28, 2009. (Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
He's nearing a return to regular practice, but the biggest Patrik Elias news on Wednesday concerned his ongoing charity work with UNICEF.

Elias spoke before the Devils-Sabres game about his involvement with the humanitarian organization, which works to provide children with health care, nutrition, clean water, and emergency relief in more than 150 countries.

Part of Wednesday's "U.S. Fund for UNICEF Night" at Prudential Center featured "Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF", one of the longest running volunteer movements in America. In attendance were Newark Mayor Cory Booker, and president of the Newark Municipal Council, Mildred Crump.

"It's getting closer to Halloween, so it's a trick-or-treat theme: 'Trick or Treat for UNICEF,'" Elias, a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, said. "It has quite a bit of history here in the States, where a lot of kids have been a part of this program. Just to have this organization be involved in such a way is great, and I'm very proud of it. For me it's a little bit closer because I've worked with this organization for five years, mainly in the Czech Republic. Hopefully this is the start of something more here in the States and in the NHL. For the Devils organization to start it, I'm proud of it."

The Mystery Pucks Table at Prudential Center
Fans attending the game were able to purchase an autographed “Mystery Puck” in "Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF" boxes. Every puck was signed by a Devils’ player, coach, or alumnus, and wrapped individually so the identity was a surprise until after purchase. Net proceeds of the puck sale went to benefit UNICEF.

Elias, who traveled to Belize on a UNICEF mission in 2008, said UNICEF's representatives have met with Devils' Chairman and Managing Partner Jeff Vanderbeek in the hopes of strengthening their partnership. Fans looking for more information on the program can visit unicefusa.org/trickortreat.

Elias also reported that he is getting closer to full-strength. He has been skating on his own while rehabbing from September groin surgery and hopes to practice with the team as soon as next week.

"I am getting better, feeling much better," said the all-time leading scorer in franchise history. "Getting stronger on the ice, so hopefully I'm on the right path."

He's still dealing with some soreness, but indicated that's to be expected.

"I think anybody that has any kind of surgery, you're still going to have that," Elias said. "There comes a point that you just play through it. You'll get over it, but age doesn't help."

Said Elias: "I'm making progress every day, and that's a good thing."
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