The blueprint for the IceHogs Charitable Foundation was laid out by former IceHogs Team President Ryan Washatka and owners Dr. Kris Tumilowicz and Craig Drektrah. The Northern Illinois Community Foundation helps manage the IceHogs Charitable Foundation.
Since the IceHogs inception in 1999, the team has prided itself in giving back to the community. In 17 seasons, the IceHogs have contributed over $1-million to the Rock River Valley.
The largest fundraiser held by the IceHogs is an annual Jersey Auction held out on the ice following a game. The jersey auction alone has raised nearly $900,000 over the course of 17 auctions.
Themes for the auction have ranged from Elvis (2001) to Hammysauraus Rex (2007) and a tribute to the Burpee Museums Jane the Dinosaur to a jersey designed by Rockford native and Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen (2003).
Beneficiaries in the past have included The Autism Program, Special Olympics, March of Dimes, Muscular Dystrophy Association, Boys and Girls Clubs of Rockford, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts of America, Northern Illinois Hospice, Jr. IceHogs hockey program and many others.
Overall in 2015-16, the IceHogs and their generous fans brought in over $220,000 through various of fundraisers including Jersey Auctions, Bowl-A-Thon and school fundraisers. The donation total was the highest in the team's history.
All proceeds from every IceHogs fundraiser have been poured back into the Rockford community to benefit local charities, kids and families in need.
Beginning in 2010, the Rockford IceHogs have hosted an Annual Bowl-a-Thon. The event takes place at Cherry Bowl in Rockford and benefits local charities. Beneficiaries in the past have been the Sydney Ives Foundation and the Huntington's Disease Society of America. Fans have an opportunity to bowl with an IceHogs player, coach or staff member at the event while getting autographs and pictures with their favorite IceHogs. Each Bowl-a-Thon features raffle prizes, including a premium raffle, and a 50-50 drawing. During the first seven Bowl-A-Thon events, over $60,000 has been raised.
Jr. IceHogs Youth Hockey Program
On August 20, 2003, the IceHogs partnered with the Rockford Park District to form the Jr. IceHogs Youth Hockey Program. The goal of the program was to increase participation in youth hockey in the area. IceHogs players and coaches make regular visits to Jr. IceHogs practices, helping teach the players the importance of fundamentals and having fun playing hockey.
“Stick To Reading” Reading Program
Throughout the course of the season, IceHogs players and staff members make several visits to local schools and libraries to read to kids, specifically elementary schools. In the past, the IceHogs have conducted a reading program within the schools, incentivizing students to improve their reading, increase their reading habits all while taking a liking to reading. The winners of the reading program got to play a floor hockey game against IceHogs players in front of the rest of the school.
Summer Reading Program
Each summer, the IceHogs partner with several area libraries for the “IceHogs Summer Reading Program.” Kids who participate receive a free IceHogs ticket voucher good for the upcoming season. This past summer, over 30 libraries, ranging from Freeport, Ill. to Walworth, Wis., participated in the reading program as the IceHogs reached over 15,000 local kids.
Middle School Day Game
Partnering with the Rockford Public School District (#205), the IceHogs host a Middle School Day Game. The inaugural event took place on January 15, 2014 and nearly 4,500 middle school students from RPS 205 attended the game. To coincide with the game, each student must complete the IceHogs Hockey 101 workbook that covers various subjects, including history, language arts, geography, math, science, health and fitness and more.
Birdies & Blades
Groups of three golfers have the unique opportunity to golf with an IceHogs player or coach in the 18-hole scramble. The event is in conjunction with the Rockford Park District and proceeds benefit the Jr. Street Hockey summer outdoor street hockey program. The event has helped provide funds to the park district so they can purchase an outdoor street hockey dasherboard system.
Summer Street Hogs
In an effort to increase active lifestyles, the IceHogs bring their Summer Street Hockey Program, “Summer Street Hogs,” to local community centers in the Rockford area, including the Boys and Girls clubs, YMCA and other various summer day camps. The initiative helps teach kids how to play street/floor hockey, teamwork and the importance of exercising and staying active. The equipment used for the Summer Street Hogs was provided by the Chicago Blackhawks.
Pink In The Rink
One of the IceHogs most popular games each season is the Annual Pink in the Rink game. The organization began the initiative on Jan. 29, 2010 dying the BMO Harris Bank Center ice pink. The 2nd Annual Pink In The Rink game was held on Jan. 29, 2011 and for the first time, the IceHogs donned special Pink In The Rink jerseys. Each year now, the jerseys worn during the Pink In The Rink game are auctioned off via a blind silent auction with proceeds benefiting Breast Cancer Research and women’s health. Last season, the IceHogs raised over $37,000 for the cause and have totaled over $155,000 since starting the initiative in 2010.
Annual Live Jersey Auction
The IceHogs signature charity fundraiser is the organization’s annual live Jersey Auction. A tradition which began during the IceHogs inaugural season in 1999-2000, towards the end of each regular season the team wears special jerseys that get auctioned off live following the game. Each jersey them is a different depiction of the IceHogs’ mascot Hammy, and themes have ranged from St. Patrick’s Day Hammy to Hammysaurus Rex to First Responder Hammy. In 17 auctions, the IceHogs and their generous fans have raised over $890,000 for local charities. Last season, the main benefactor was Special Olympics and over the past 17 years, not for profit organizations such as The Autism Program, Boys Scouts and Girls Scouts, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, March of Dimes, MDA, Jr. IceHogs and more have received funds through the IceHogs Annual Jersey Auction.
Brovember For Men’s Health
A hockey program that has taken off over recent years is Men’s Health month and the IceHogs participate in Brovember during the month of November. IceHogs players grow facial hair to help raise awareness for men’s health and prostate cancer. In November 2014, the IceHogs are teaming with Brovember to raise money and awareness for the Healing Pathways Cancer Resource Center. The IceHogs and Brovember will attempt for the largest beard and moustache championship in a game in November and have the most beards or mustaches in one venue.
Teddy Bear Toss
Each season around the holidays, the IceHogs host the Teddy Bear Toss. Fans are invited to being new stuffed animals to the select game and after the IceHogs score their first goal, fans toss the stuffed animals onto the ice. The stuffed animals are then collected and distributed throughout the community to children of need to help brighten their holiday season. There are over 20 organizations that receive the stuffed animals including hospitals, Toys For Tots, Salvation Army, Motherhouse Crisis Nursery and many others. IceHogs players and staff help deliver the stuffed animals.
Other non-fundraising events that the IceHogs players, coaches and front office staff have participated in include Sharefest, Habitat For Humanity and the team’s Summer Street Hockey Program and Adopt-a-School program.
Throughout the course of the season, IceHogs players, mascots and staff members make numerous of community appearances. Last season alone, the IceHogs organization made over to 200 community appearances with players, front office members and the team’s mascot (Hammy).
For more information about the IceHogs Charitable Foundation or to inquire about having the IceHogs make an appearance at your school or event, contact the team at (815) 986-6465 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To place a donation request, click here and fill out the donation request form.
IceHogs players have made over 50 hospital visits since the team's inception in 1999. Above (left to right) Vince Hinostroza, Dane Walters, Jeremy Morin, and Ryan Hartman visit Swedish American Hospital.
Forward Garret Ross made several visits to Rockford area schools to see some of his biggest fans.
For the second consecutive season, goaltender Michael Leighton treated inspirational people to a VIP experience at an IceHogs game through his "Leighton's Minions" program.