08/12/2010 12:47 PM
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Thanks to the generosity of Grand Rapids Griffins fan Nancy Gamby, the Ronald McDonald House of Western Michigan is now the proud home of the Griffins/Van Andel Arena playhouse.
Gamby, who won the playhouse in April through a season-long raffle that benefited the Griffins Youth Foundation, subsequently made the decision to donate it. On Thursday, she was joined by builder Mike Fraser of Out on a Limb Playhouses, Griffins representatives and a host of sponsors and supporters at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on the grounds of the Ronald McDonald House. (Click here for a photo gallery.)
“It was absolutely overwhelming when I found out I had won it, and then trying to decide what to do with it,” said Gamby. “I had no room where I live and my youngest grandchild is 19, so I talked to the Griffins office and they gave me a couple choices. After talking it over we decided that the Ronald McDonald House was a place where more children were going to be able to use it and enjoy it. Just to be able to give it to the kids, that’s what it’s all about.”
This spectacular custom-built playhouse, donated by Out on a Limb Playhouses, features an exterior modeled after Van Andel Arena and an interior inspired by the Griffins locker room and the game-night arena atmosphere, including: two stadium-style seats; a custom-made bench modeled after those in the Griffins’ locker room; an “ice-rink” floor with dasher boards; a Griffins hanging scoreboard light; a built-in street hockey net with three street hockey sticks and balls; a Hockey Guys playset; 11 hockey-themed books for children through adults; and installed lighting and electric.
“This is an exciting day,” said Joe Dulin, director of development for the Ronald McDonald House. “We’re thrilled that we were chosen to receive this playhouse. It’s going to be a real special thing for the kids and families that stay here at the house. We are so grateful to Nancy for picking us with the help of the Griffins. It’s a terrific donation and we certainly appreciate it.
“We’ve had a nice relationship with the Griffins. They are such a wonderful organization and they do so much for so many youth organizations. For example, just this past December, some of the Griffins came over with a huge TV set for our living room. It’s so appreciated by our families to have a place they can gather and enjoy a little time away from the hospital, just to have some family time.”
The playhouse will be enjoyed by more than 400 families that stay at Ronald McDonald House each year while their children receive medical care.
“I’m so happy to see that it’s in good hands,” said Fraser. “It’s been a two-year project and the culmination of a lot of good people putting hockey and playhouses together. I have a connection to hockey, being Canadian, so this was a neat way to combine my dream of building playhouses with something that Grand Rapids would recognize. I had a blast, and it couldn’t have gone to a better organization. I know there will be years and years of fun for the kids here.”
The playhouse project was made possible through the support of Out on a Limb Playhouses, the Griffins, the Daniel and Pamella DeVos Foundation, the Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority, Fast Signs, Corrigan Moving Systems, Apex Landscape, The Center for Physical Rehabilitation, the Golladay family, Regal Financial Group, Rogers Printing, the Irwin Seating Company, Play N Trade Alpine, Pooh's Corner, Sam’s Club, and Alro Plastics.
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