EAST LANSING, Mich. -- As a fundraiser for MSU hockey's Shoot for a Cure initiative to raise money for the fight against children's cancer, fans will be invited to take part in the second annualÂ "Skate with the Pros", featuring several former Michigan State players now playing professional hockey. The event will be held onÂ Wednesday., August 18 at Munn Ice Arena. Admission will be $10 per person, with every dollar collected going to Sparrow Hospitalâ€™s â€œCure Kids Cancerâ€ and to Brandonâ€™s Defense Foundation.
"Skate with the Pros" is being held during Michigan State's annual Pro Camp, which brings former Spartans still playing professional hockey back to East Lansing to begin intensive training for upcoming professional team camps. After Wednesday's Pro Camp session, fans will have the opportunity to skate with several of the professional players, followed by an autograph session on the north concourse. Posters with pictures of participating players will be provided to all attendees for autographs.
Admission bracelets will be sold for $10 per person starting at 4:15 p.m. at the East and West entrances of Munn Ice Arena (on Chestnut and Birch Roads). Bracelets will be required to be on the ice or to participate in the post-skate autograph session. Skate rental will also be available for $2 per pair.Â Â Fans can skate from 5 p.m. to 5:45 p.m., then will line up for autographs with the professional players, which will begin at 6 p.m.
For the safety of everyone involved, pens/markers for autographs will NOT be allowed on the ice, and fans are asked to refrain from requesting autographs until the session on the concourse after the skate. To ensure that all participants can get through the player autograph line, each bracelet-holder will be able to obtain one autograph per participating pro player.
Skate with the Pros is being spearheaded by Justin Abdelkader and his Detroit Red Wings teammate Drew Miller, who started the Spartan Buddies program, bringing MSU student athletes to Sparrow Hospital to visit with pediatric patients.Â Abdelkader began "Shoot for a Cure" in January of 2008 as an offshoot of the Spartan Buddies program,. As Abdelkader and several of his teammates developed friendships with several children battling cancer and their families, the then-junior wanted to do more - and the Shoot for a Cure initative was born. Since its inception in January 2008. Shoot for a Cure has raised more than $30,000 through chuck-a-puck at MSU home games, silent auctions, and a visit from the Stanley Cup in Sept. 2008.
â€œThe Michigan State and greater Lansing communities have been overwhelmingly supportive of the Shoot for a Cure initiative, and we are truly grateful for their continued support,â€ notes Abdelkader.Â â€œThe fight against childrenâ€™s cancer is one that is very personal for many of us, and I have never heard â€˜noâ€™ from one of our current guys or our alums when we have asked them to donate memorabilia, dedicate time for a fundraising event, or even just visit the hospital to try to brighten a childâ€™s day.Â Skate with the Pros is a fun event for all of us, and weâ€™re hoping for a great turnout in year two.â€
â€œThis initiative that started with Spartan Buddies has grown so much in the last five years,â€ admits Miller, who is about to start his second season in a Red Wings sweater.Â â€œI think that the proudest thing, for me, as a Spartan and an East Lansing native, is that so many of my fellow alums are selfless enough to continue to donate time and effort to bettering this community.Â Â I hope that people in the greater Lansing area will join with us to help raise money and awareness of the fight against childrenâ€™s cancer.â€œÂ
The Brandon's Defense Foundation was started in honor of Brandon Gordon, a DeWitt teen who lost his courageous two-year battle with osteosarcoma in February 2009. A hockey player himself, Brandon was adopted into the MSU hockey family and was one of the inspirations for Shoot for a Cure. In addition to helping raise money for cancer research, Brandon's Defense's initiatives also include those aimed at improving a patient's quality of life: necessity bags for families of recently-diagnosed children with cancer or other life-threatening illnesses, a snack pantry for families to utilize during long clinic visits, and backpacks that contain things to entertain newly-diagnosed children during long hospital stays.
Michigan State's Pro Camp annually brings 30 or more former Spartan players to these training sessions, and is now entering its second decade. In addition to Abdelkader and Miller, professional players expected to work out at this year's Pro Camp include recent stars and fan favorites.Â MSU's pros will run drills every day during the week of Aug. 16:Â 11am-1 p.m. (Monday, Thursday),Â 3-5 p.m. (Tuesday & Wednesday), and 10 a.m.-noon on Friday.
PRO CAMP PARTICIPANTS (Attendees still confirming; Participation will vary day-to-day):
Goaltenders:Â Jeff Lerg, Bobby Jarosz
Defensemen:Â John-Michael Liles, Andrew Hutchinson, Mike Weaver, Ethan Graham, Jared Nightingale, Brandon Warner, Mike Ratchuk, Corey Potter, Jeff Petry, Brandon Gentile.
Forwards:Â Â Shawn Horcoff, David Booth, Justin Abdelkader, Tim Kennedy, JimÂ Slater, DrewÂ Miller, Tim Crowder,Â Chris Mueller, JimÂ McKenzie, Corey Tropp, Nick Sucharski, Zak McClellan, Adam Hall, York Sprague Steve Guolla