GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.
The Grand Rapids Griffins community programs and charitable efforts during the 2004-05 American Hockey League season generated $234,540 for various schools, organizations and non-profit groups throughout West Michigan.
Despite the cancellation of the annual Detroit Red Wings Red & White Game, which in 2003 raised $70,000 for the Griffins Youth Foundation, last years activities increased the Griffins impressive charitable fundraising total over the past three seasons to $804,578.
The Griffins Youth Foundation was again the primary beneficiary of the teams endeavors in 2004-05, receiving in excess of $78,000. These funds were raised primarily through the annual golf classic ($60,000), the third annual Great Skate at Rosa Parks Circle ($12,500), and various in-game promotions ($3,255).
Several traditional programs garnered significant funds for their appointed charities, including:
Halloween Jersey Auction (Oct. 30) - $7,805 in bids for Big Brothers Big Sisters;
Charlestown Chiefs Jersey Auction (Mar. 18) - $11,725 in bids for ALS Association West Michigan;
Tip-A-Griffin at Applebees (Feb. 22) - $10,705 for Big Brothers Big Sisters;
Get Fed by the Griffins at Max & Ermas (Jan. 18) - $2,170 for Special Olympics;
Put A Lid On It (helmet safety program) - $8,000 in ticket donations and $3,000 to Greater Grand Rapids Safe Kids/Lakeshore Safe Kids for the purchase of bike helmets for underprivileged kids;
Throw for Dough - $43,599 for sponsoring organizations;
Growing With the Griffins - $5,000 for nine local youth hockey organizations;
Better Halves (Griffins wives group) - $2,000 for Santa Claus Girls.
A new initiative, Become a Hero, encouraged fans to support the favorite charities of Griffins players by making pledges towards the players on-ice performances. The program generated $2,275 for 14 different organizations, led by $833 for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation Grand Rapids Affiliate.
Similarly, through the teams Charitable Goals program, 10 Griffins players totaled $8,500 for other charities by virtue of the statistics they compiled, spearheaded by Bryan Helmer ($2000 to the Humane Society from Priority Mortgage), Darryl Bootland ($1,400 to Big Brothers Big Sisters from KBH Homes) and Eric Manlow ($1,050 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation by Dean Foods).
The Griffins also teamed with Standard Federal Bank and Chemical Bank to raise $14,775 for four local charities. Standard Federal Bank generously vowed $100 for every goal scored by the Griffins at home, resulting in donations of $4,850 each to Mel Trotter Ministries and Goodwill Industries. Chemical Bank, meanwhile, pledged five dollars per save to charity, resulting in a $5,075 donation split between Steepletown Neighborhood Services, Eastown Jubilee Housing, and Inner City Christian Federation.
In addition to these formal events and programs, $37,000 was raised by and for youth hockey teams, community organizations, schools and charities through ticket fundraising and ticket donations. 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, staff and Griff, the team mascot.
As a whole, the AHL and its 28 member clubs raised more than $2.5 million during the 2004-05 season for various charitable causes and relief funds throughout North America.