The Afternoon Shift – Jan. 18

Baby, it's cold outside! / Bottom photo by the Grand Rapids Press

Whether it involves skating on the ice or plunging beneath it, Griffins players and staff members will be participating in some unique fundraisers during the winter months, giving fans the opportunity to support two worthy charities.

This weekend, of course, is the Griffins’ annual Great Skate Winterfest, a 34-hour fundraiser for the Griffins Youth Foundation at Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids. Beginning Saturday at noon, all are invited down to enjoy a day full of winter-inspired events, sports demonstrations and family activities, featuring sled dogs, snowboarders, ice sculptors, zoo animals, figure skaters, horse-drawn carriages, winter sport athletes, and local museums and libraries. Admission is free, although donations are encouraged and certain activity fees apply.

Then at 10 p.m., as the Griffins’ game against Chicago wraps up at Van Andel Arena, the ninth annual Great Skate will begin. This 24-hour skating marathon runs until 10 p.m. Sunday, with every Griffins player and coach taking a one-hour shift to skate with fans and local media personalities around the clock. 

More information about the Great Skate Winterfest, including the lineup of Griffins skaters, can be found at Through that site, fans can also raise money for the Griffins Youth Foundation, to help it provide opportunities for 300 kids – many of whom are underprivileged, underserved or have other special needs – to participate in the great sport of hockey at no cost. Everyone is invited to sponsor their favorite Griffin or collect pledges for their own participation in the Great Skate.

Thanks to a road game in Toronto on Feb. 19, Griffins players will miss out on the second wintry event. The team’s staffers, however, aren’t so lucky.

Twelve Griffins employees, interns and even an unfortunate spouse will take part in the Polar Plunge at Reeds Lake in East Grand Rapids, to help raise money for Special Olympics Michigan. Clad only in flimsy costumes, these brave souls – including yours truly – will jump into the 33-degree waters, risking hypothermia and embarrassment while providing amusement to hundreds of bundled-up onlookers.

Sounds like fun? Of course not. So the least you can do is visit our staff’s pledge page to make a donation. Not only are we supporting a fantastic cause in the Special Olympics, but we are also trying to raise more money than the Whitecaps’ staff, whose challenge got us into this mess in the first place.

You see, the Whitecaps are still stinging from their crushing softball defeat at our hands last fall, but now they think they can take us in our own icy element. Help us prove them wrong.

Today’s Griffins links:

AHL/opponent link:

Alumni news and notes:


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