October 15, 2010
by Karen Patterson - griffinshockey.com
Giving back to others: it’s a concept that is well known in the Grand Rapids area, and the Grand Rapids Griffins are contributing to the movement whenever a player scores a goal through the team’s Charitable Goals program.
Started during the 2001-02 season, the Charitable Goals program involves various local businesses pledging to donate a set amount to a charity when a specific player scores a goal. For the 2010-11 season, there are nine sponsor-charity partnerships.
“Historically we’ve had anywhere from five to 11 pairings,” said Bob Kaser, Griffins vice president of community relations and broadcasting. “Centennial Securities, Dean Foods and Comcast have been three of our biggest and most consistent contributors over the years.”
This year’s pairings include:
- Comcast donating $50 to Hospice of Michigan for every goal scored by Logan Pyett;
- Centennial Securities giving $50 to the Pursuing a Dream Foundation when Jamie Johnson scores;
- Dean Foods contributing $50 to Big Brothers Big Sisters for every goal by Brendan Smith;
- Fox Motors giving $100 to the Griffins Youth Foundation when Cory Emmerton scores;
- J & H Family Stores giving $100 to Kids' Food Basket when Jamie Tardif scores;
- Fidelity Investments donating $50 to Susan G. Komen For the Cure Grand Rapids for each goal by Joakim Andersson;
- Laminin Products contributing $100 to KidsGames for goals scored by Jordan Owens;
- DK Security will donate $50 to the Salvation Army for every win;
- DK Security will also donate $500 to God’s Kitchen if the Griffins shut out their opponent.
“We give companies the chance to choose a charity of their choice as well as a player, but often they defer to me,” Kaser said.
Players will often have a part in deciding which charities they try to light the lamp for, which can lead to some memorable experiences and interactions between the team and West Michigan’s great charitable organizations.
“During the 2005-06 campaign, Mark Micho’s company, GM Wood Products, was donating $100 for every goal scored by Donald MacLean,” Kaser said. “Well, MacLean just happened to set a Griffins franchise record with 56 goals (that season), so $5,600 was donated to Straight Elementary School. Over and above that, Mark and Donald went to the school to hand them the check personally, and Mark also purchased all kinds of gifts that he handed out to the kids. It was absolutely one of the greatest days in my ten years with the Griffins.”
Those moments, as well as letters and emails from charities that have benefited from the program, have impacted the players positively. Kaser shared that many are impressed that so many companies want to donate money for goals and wins to local non-profits.
“Giving back to our community is a high priority of the DeVos and Van Andel families, and since they own the team, we are more than happy to do so as well. We would certainly do it anyway, but they inspire us with their commitment to West Michigan.”
Each individual involved in the Charitable Goals program has an opportunity to give back to their community in some way. For Kaser and the players, it’s a chance to interact with fans on a more personal level while helping great causes. Fans interested in learning more and watching the goals and dollars grow this season can check the Charitable Goals web page by clicking here. Regardless of how much money is raised by the end of the season, the impact is felt both by the organization as well as the local companies and charities.
“Our goal is to just touch as many people and non-profits as we can,” Kaser said. “There are so many great causes out there that we can impact.”