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Team Introduces Innovative Pledge Program to Benefit 17 Charities

– The Grand Rapids Griffins on Friday introduced their newest community initiative, the “Become a Hero!” pledge program, which enables fans to support an array of local and national charities by sponsoring the on-ice performances of their favorite players.

By visiting the team’s redesigned web site at, fans can select one of 20 Griffins players and make a pledge for each goal, assist, point, win or save he accumulates during the 2004-05 regular season. Fans will designate their pledge to benefit either a charity specifically chosen by that player or the Grand Rapids Griffins Youth Foundation.

As a result of the fans’ generosity and the players’ performances, 17 different charities will benefit directly from the success the Griffins have on the ice this season. A complete list of players and their chosen charities can be found below, while information and links to each charity’s web site can be found here.

Pledge amounts for each player begin at $0.01 per save, $0.25 per point, $0.50 per assist or win, and $1.00 per goal, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to charity. By making a pledge, fans agree to a minimum commitment of $5 toward the selected charity, and they may choose to cap their maximum donation at $50. At the conclusion of the season, fans will be invoiced by the particular charity for their total donation, which is tax-deductible as allowed by law.

Many Griffins players chose their charities as a result of circumstances that have directly affected their lives. For instance, Danny Groulx, who is sponsoring the Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan, suffered from the disorder as a child. Eric Manlow, who lost two childhood friends to muscular dystrophy, has selected MDA, while Peter Vandermeer’s memories of his grandpa inspire his support of the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan.

“My mom’s dad died of kidney disease when I was about 10 years old, and he was really close to me, dear to my heart,” Vandermeer said. “He taught me and my brothers how to go fishing and how to take care of ourselves out in the bush. If there’s some way that I can help out so that somebody else can spend a little more time with their grandpa, then I think it’s worthwhile. I worked with the kidney foundation back home in Alberta when I played junior, but this is a nice opportunity to get a chance to do something for my new home down here.”

For more information about the “Become a Hero!” program or to make a pledge by phone, please call the Griffins office at (616) 774-4585 ext. 3046.

2004-05 “Become a Hero!” Pledge Program - Players and Beneficiaries

Paul Ballantyne - American Cancer Society
Darryl Bootland - Shoot For a Cure
Matt Ellis - U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys For Tots Program
Danny Groulx - Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan
Bryan Helmer - God's Kitchen
Eric Himelfarb - American Cancer Society
Jiri Hudler - The Salvation Army - Greater Grand Rapids
Todd Jackson - Habitat for Humanity of Kent County
Kory Karlander - Make-A-Wish Foundation of Michigan
Tomas Kopecky - Children's Miracle Network at DeVos Children's Hospital Foundation – Pediatric Cancer Child Life Services
Niklas Kronwall - Children's Miracle Network at DeVos Children's Hospital Foundation – Pediatric Cancer Child Life Services
Brett Lebda - Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
Joey MacDonald - American Cancer Society
Drew MacIntyre - Life Guidance Services
Eric Manlow - Muscular Dystrophy Association of West Michigan
Derek Meech - American Cancer Society
Travis Richards - St. John's Home
Nathan Robinson - Ronald McDonald House of Western Michigan
Blake Sloan - Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation Grand Rapids Affiliate
Peter Vandermeer - National Kidney Foundation of Michigan

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