KALAMAZOO (September 15, 2018) - The Kalamazoo Optimist Hockey Association (KOHA) announced today a donation of 25 brand new sets of hockey equipment, courtesy of the NHLPA’s Goals & Dreams Fund. This donation will help KOHA’s partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kalamazoo to introduce the game of ice hockey to disadvantaged youth in Kalamazoo County.
Adam Hall, who grew up in the community and got his start in hockey with KOHA, spent 11 seasons in the NHL and is thrilled about this opportunity to give back to the game he loved in the community where it all started for him. “KOHA and the Kalamazoo hockey community is where my love for the game began. I was extremely fortunate to have hard work, opportunity, and talent combine to enable me to fulfill my dream of playing in the NHL. I know not every child has those opportunities and I am thankful to be a part of KOHA’s program that introduces our great game to underprivileged kids with the help of the NHLPA’s Goals & Dreams equipment grant,” says Hall.
Participants from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kalamazoo will take part in KOHA's Get Out And Learn (G.O.A.L.) Program starting September 22nd, at no cost. The entire Kalamazoo hockey community is coming together to provide these kids a great experience; From KOHA's Skills Staff and teams, to the Southwest Michigan High School Hockey League, Western Michigan University Broncos (NCHC), Kalamazoo Wings (ECHL), and our facility partner - Wings West Ice Arena - the participants will have an impactful and fun experience. The equipment provided by the NHLPA's Goals & Dreams fund will ensure the kids served are able to love our great game safely. "The NHLPA grant was really the springboard for this program's execution. Without it, KOHA simply does not have the resources to introduce these kids to the game," says Matt Kakabeeke, KOHA's Hockey Director.
Kalamazoo is fortunate to have such a vibrant and close-knit hockey community. “From the families in our program, to the relationship with the high school league, and the support of the Kalamazoo Wings (ECHL) and the Western Michigan University Bronco Hockey (NCHC) programs, we have resources and hockey opportunities that rival much larger cities. To have their support as we launch a new partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kalamazoo thanks to the NHLPA’s Goals & Dreams equipment grant, means the world to us and we couldn’t be more excited for the opportunities this will provide,” says Dianne Shaffer, President of KOHA’s Board of Directors.
Chairman of the Goals & Dreams fund, Devin Smith, commented on the success of the program. “Over the last 18 years, NHL players have donated more than $24 million to fund and assist grassroots hockey programs around the world. We’ve sent equipment everywhere from Australia to South Africa, Europe, Malaysia and North America. The biggest obstacle in participating in hockey is the cost of equipment. Our goal is to bridge that gap for less fortunate children”.
In 1999, the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) launched the Goals & Dreams fund as a way for the players to give something back to the game they love. The players’ program has donated full sets of hockey equipment that has benefited more than 80,000 economically challenged children in 34 countries and assisted with upgrades and the building of hundreds of arenas world-wide. To date, Goals & Dreams has donated more than $24-million to grassroots hockey programs around the world making it the largest program of its kind. For more information on the NHLPA, please visit www.nhlpa.com.
The Kalamazoo Optimist Hockey Association (KOHA), established in 1965, is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to provide every boy and girl in southwest Michigan the opportunity to enjoy at excel at the game of hockey.
KOHA's vision is to be a regional destination and national leader for youth hockey. From Learn To Skate through high school-aged players, KOHA has programs for everyone! KOHA is proud to be one of USA Hockey's original Model Associations, and continues to forge new partnerships to provide our players with the best development opportunities.