COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Pennsylvania is the gold-medal state it was announced today by The USA Hockey Foundation in wrapping up its “Paint America Red, White and Blue” fundraising campaign that spanned the month of December.
The Keystone State's 32 donations led the nation, thus giving it the gold-medal designation. Michigan was not far behind with 27 donors and Massachusetts finished third with 24 donations. Contributions also came from newer hockey markets, including Louisiana, Alabama and South Carolina. In total, some 300 people took part with more than $40,000 raised to benefit the continued advancement of hockey in the United States.
“We couldn’t be more thankful to those that participated in this very first Paint America Red, White and Blue campaign,” said Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey and The USA Hockey Foundation. “The contributions received will help further opportunities in the sport at all levels and we are so appreciative of every single gift.”
The USA Hockey Foundation supports USA Hockey efforts that provide opportunities to disabled and disadvantaged youth; help increase participation through a variety of initiatives; enhance the safety of the game; help the U.S. be the best internationally; provide education programs for athletes, coaches, officials and parents; and celebrate the game through commemoration.
Hockey can teach a child more than just how to shoot and score, especially if parents, coaches and associations design their hockey programs to develop successful people, not just successful players.
At DinoMights, a non-profit youth hockey development program in Minneapolis, that goal is embraced through the acronym PASS, which stands for Physical, Academic, Social and Spiritual development. Providing inner-city kids with learn-to-skate programs, hockey camps and tutoring sessions since 1994, DinoMights has grown from 70 kids to more than 150. The program is made possible with help from the USA Hockey Foundation and NHL’s combined efforts in the Hockey Is For Everyone initiative.
“The most important needs of our students go far beyond hockey,” said Scott Harman, executive director of DinoMights. “We hope they are getting involved in school, in other school groups or teams, in really every facet of their life. We use hockey to introduce them to that.”
The NHL and USA Hockey have partnered in diversity initiatives since 1995. It’s through the HIFE program that DinoMights is awarded with annual grants. Roughly $8,000 each year covers all of DinoMights’ hockey operations costs, including ice time, equipment and fees.
“Everyone knows that hockey costs can be pricey,” said Harman. “We couldn’t do any of this without USA Hockey Foundation’s help and support. We are able to offer kids who might have never even thought about the chance of playing hockey that opportunity because of the USA Hockey Foundation and the grants they provide.
“It’s really special for everyone involved.”
The positive effect on those involved has been noticeable. Players matriculating through the DinoMights program have an 85-percent graduation rate in Minneapolis public schools – 35 percent higher than the average. Many of them return to volunteer their time with DinoMights once they’ve aged out, in order to give back to a program that gave to them.
Some of those giving back include U.S. Women’s National Team members. This past January, 2014 U.S. Olympian Anne Schleper gifted the DinoMights brand-new equipment, having volunteered with the program during her college tenure.
“For me, you want to see your kids think that what you did was valuable enough that they want to give back,” Harman said. “We don’t see many in DinoMights who go through our program and disappear. That’s how important this program has been to the kids that have been through it.
“And we couldn’t be more thankful for all that USA Hockey and the NHL has done for us to achieve it. Many of these kids’ lives wouldn’t be the same without it.”