One of the greatest opportunities being a professional athlete affords is the ability to make a difference in the community. There are countless stories of athletes from around the world using their global platform for good – contrary to what ornery detractors of pro sports figures would tell you.

Ducks forward Rickard Rakell and his fiancee, Emmeli, are among those doing good and were recently profiled by the Ducks’ official Twitter account after partnering with the Canine Companions for Independence (CCI). Since 1975, CCI has partnered service dogs, specifically Labrador Retrievers, with adults, children, and veterans for no charge. Service dogs can perform a wide variety of tasks, from opening doors and providing physical assistance, to simply being man’s best friend. Life can be frustrating for individuals who have disabilities and assistance dogs provide a much-needed support system for those who need extra help in their daily lives.

After Emmeli found the group on Instagram, the couple fell in love with the organization – and the dogs – and tried to figure out a way to work with them. This led to the creation of their new 67 Assists charitable program. The new initiative hopes to bring service dogs to those in need using the Anaheim Ducks organization as a conduit for the relationship, according to Rakell. The Rakells have two beloved Black Labs of their own, so the pairing was a no-brainer. “[It’s great] to see the potential of the dogs, how much they do for people, and how they change lives,” said Rakell.

Check out the full video of the future Mr. and Mrs. Rakells’ visit to CCI, courtesy of the Anaheim Ducks’ Twitter account.

Hopefully, this is the start of a beautiful partnership that can help out those individuals who need specialized assistance in Southern California – or the rest of the United States. I don’t know about you, but I’ll be getting my Rakell #67 jersey ready to support the cause. After all, who doesn’t love the natural pairing of dogs and hockey?

According to their website, Canine Companions for Independence® is a non-profit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs and ongoing support to ensure quality partnerships and has done so for over 40+ years. Canine Companions for Independence trains assistance dogs for adults, children, veterans, and professional services.

CCI has over 2,000 service dogs currently working with those in need and over 1,000 puppies training to be the next group of great service dogs.
For more information or to learn more about pairing an assistance dog with you or someone you know, visit

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