October 15, 2010
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:
“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.”
“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.”
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