GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. –
The hard work of the Grand Rapids Griffins isn’t just limited to their play on the ice. The organization’s community programs and charitable efforts during the 2011-12 American Hockey League season generated nearly $330,000 for various schools, organizations and nonprofits throughout West Michigan, accounting for a significant portion of the more than $3 million raised by the AHL’s 30 teams for charitable causes last year.
The Griffins Youth Foundation was the top beneficiary of the team’s endeavors, receiving more than $100,000 through the 17th annual golf classic ($75,000), the Great Skate Winterfest at Rosa Parks Circle ($25,000) and fundraisers such as the seventh annual Sled Wings vs. Griffins sled hockey game ($2,500) on Feb. 28 and the in-game 50/50 raffle ($24,000).
Several of the Griffins’ traditional programs generated significant funds for their appointed charities, including:
• Throw for Dough
– $54,500 for sponsoring organizations through both puck and ticket sales;
• Jersey Auctions
- $52,500 was raised through four post-game auctions of various game-worn jerseys, including the special purple jerseys for the Community for a Cure “Purple Game,” two jerseys selected as the winners of the team’s annual jersey design contest, and the Red Wings-inspired Friday jerseys;
• Growing With the Griffins
– $25,000 benefiting eight local youth hockey organizations;
• Put A Lid On It
– $17,000 in ticket donations and $1,500 to Greater Grand Rapids Safe Kids for the purchase of bike helmets for donation to both underprivileged kids and participants in the 2012 Grand Cycling Classic kids race;
• Charitable Goals
– $13,000 was raised as the result of nine local companies teaming with Griffins players to raise money for various charities. A donation was made each time the player scored a goal, or the team recorded a win or shutout.
The Griffins raised $1,500 for Kids’ Food Basket during their annual Pumping Gas fundraiser, held at three local Marathon / J & H Family Stores locations on Nov. 15, and regularly sent players and staff to the charity’s headquarters to pack sack lunches for those in need. The team also hosted its inaugural Reds, Whites and Brews wine and beer tasting at the Goei Center on Feb. 20, where Griffins players served craft beer and wine samples to over 150 attending guests as a benefit for Easter Seals Michigan.
On Oct. 10, the Griffins hosted their annual “Pups and Pucks” Walk-A-Thon at Mackenzie’s Animal Sanctuary in Lake Odessa, as players and coaches walked rescued dogs to raise $13,000 for the Midwest’s largest no-kill shelter.
Thousands of free tickets were given away during the 2011-12 season, including several hundred to local unemployed workers through the Griffins Give Back program. In conjunction with Michigan Works, the program donated tickets to hundreds of unemployed workers and their families to attend a game on Nov. 27. Combined with the Griffins’ Reading Goals program, which was open to participation by all schools in the Kent and Ottawa Area Intermediate School Districts, and tickets redeemed through Put A Lid On It, the team donated over 14,000 tickets.
Several current and former players also contributed to the team’s ticket donations by purchasing season tickets for and partnering with local organizations. Through programs like Howard’s Heroes (Jimmy Howard
), Little Joeys (Joey MacDonald
) and The 1914 Club (Greg Amadio
and Chris Minard
), a total of 12 tickets per game were donated to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids and Ronald McDonald House to host a local family at each of the Griffins’ 38 home games.
A pair of Griffins also participated in Movember, a moustache-growing battle that helps raise vital funds and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and other cancers that affect men. Amadio and Mitch Callahan
joined numerous hockey players and thousands of men around the world in growing a moustache during November to earn online donations. The veteran bested the rookie in the competition, raising $1,026 to Callahan’s $607.
During all Saturday games last season, the wives and girlfriends of the Griffins players – a.k.a. the “Better Halves – sold $10 silicone memory bracelets at the Griffins Booster Club table, raising $5,500 for Love for Lokomotiv
. The Love for Lokomotiv foundation was established to support the families of the victims of the tragic Sept. 7 plane crash in Russia that claimed the lives of 44 people, including the entire roster and coaching staff of the Kontinental Hockey League’s Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. Included among the victims were three former members of the Griffins: forward Pavol Demitra
, defenseman Karel Rachunek
and goaltender Stefan Liv
The Griffins also assisted several hundred schools and organizations during the course of the season through donations of memorabilia and personal appearances by Griffins players and staff, as well as Griff and Finn, the team mascots.
Over the last 10 seasons, the Griffins’ charitable activities have helped generate more than $3.1 million for various causes and organizations in West Michigan.