GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Giving back to the community is a great way to spend your weekend, and the Griffins found time in between their games showing West Michigan their community goes deeper than Van Andel's ice.
Brand new hockey jersey's lit up the faces of 18 children on the West Michigan Patriots Hockey team, a special needs team in a league where most children are finding a new found joy in sports. Head coach of the West Michigan Special Hockey Association, Charlie Keider, started the league under a year ago, giving the children a chance to experience what so many others take for granted.
"This is a group of kids in the past, that have been kind of left out of many of those types of opportunities," said Keider. "We saw a need and a hole in that in hockey, and we filled up that need here."
The Griffins took part in celebrating with the Patriots open their jersey's, taking pictures and giving tours of their hockey arena. Some children even got on the ice with the players.
Jeff Blashill, the Griffin's Head Coach, believes day's like this give his team a chance to show the Griffin's community is about more than just hockey.
"We feel real fortunate to do this as a living and to be able to give back and see the joy when they opened up their jerseys," said Blashill. "I thought that was an awesome moment, I was thankful to be apart of it."
Joining the West Michigan Special Hockey League is free of charge. Everything is paid for including ice time and hockey gear, but they're taking donations using a GoFundMe account on their Facebook page. Keider believes the donations will give the children an opportunity to enjoy team work, comradery, and just having fun on the ice for years to come.
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