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Wild’s Jason Zucker is out $50K thanks to hot stick, late friend Tuck Helstrom

May 5, 2018 GMT

ST. PAUL — Before the start of the 2017-18 season, Wild forward Jason Zucker literally put his money where his mouth is.

As a part of the #GIVE16 campaign he and his wife, Carly, started, the 26-year-old winger pledged to donate $1,600 for every goal he scored during the upcoming season.

Little did Zucker know he was about to embark on a breakout season, setting a career-high with 33 goals, second on the team to Eric Staal’s 42.

“It was a motivation factor for me,” Zucker said with a laugh. “You make a pledge like that and hope to score some goals. I’m glad I was actually able to do that.”

Zucker will present a check for $52,800 to the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital soon.

“We’re planning on doing a big check presentation,” Zucker said. “We just haven’t figured out the logistics of it yet.”

These types of initiatives are an example as to why Zucker recently was nominated as a finalists for the 2018 King Clancy Memorial Trophy, awarded to the NHL player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community. He will be going up against Nashville Predators defenseman PK Subban and Vancouver Canucks twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin, who were nominated as a package deal.

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The Zuckers started their campaign to raise funds for the Zucker Family Suite and Broadcast Studio at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital. Zucker says the space will allow children to watch Wild games in a setting that simulates the experience of being at an actual game, while also serving as a state-of-the-art broadcast studio.

The Zuckers started the project by donating $160,000 last October. After that, they encouraged members of the community to chip in blocks of 16 — $16, $160, $1,600, $16,000, etc. — as a nod to his No. 16 jersey with the hometown team.

Since then, the campaign has raised nearly $1 million, with donations from all across the state.

All of the funds raised through the #GIVE16 campaign will go directly to the Zucker Family Suite and Broadcast Studio. It will take about $600,000 to build and furnish the room and everything after that will go toward the general upkeep.

“Essentially everything that keeps that space running, whether it’s maintenance, or workers, or the food for the kids, or the other behind-the-scenes stuff. All those things that people don’t necessarily think about once the space is actually built.”

Zucker said the entire project is a nod to his late friend Tucker Helstrom, with whom he forged an unbreakable bond a couple of years ago, before the 8-year-old lost his fight with osteosarcoma on July 2, 2016.

“All of this is because of him,” Zucker said. “This whole thing has been to keep his legacy alive. He was such a great kid. He made such an impact on us. We are very honored to be able to do something like this for him. It’s something that will make sure he’s remembered forever.”