The Adirondack Thunder placed an early and often emphasis on the local community during the 2015-16 season. The Thunder had a plethora of community appearances and donations to local causes that highlighted their inaugural season in Glens Falls.
The Thunder honored five players, forwards Dana Fraser, James Henry and Michael Kirkpatrick, along with defensemen Mike Busillo and Luke Curadi as the community service award winners for 2015-16, as a thank you for their time committed to the local community.
Military Appreciation Night – Presented By UA Local 773
The Thunder held their first themed jersey night of the season on December 12 for Military Appreciation Night, presented by UA Local 773. UA Local sponsored camo jerseys, which the Thunder wore against the Manchester Monarchs and auctioned off after the game, with over $8,000 being donated to the Wounded Warrior Project.
Pink in the Rink – Presented By Glens Falls Hospital
Pink in the Rink Night on January 16 was the second theme jersey auction of the season and raised over $9,000 for the C.R. Wood Cancer center through a live jersey auction and ticket donations. Pink in the Rink Night marked the largest jersey auction of the season and the week leading up to included an appearance from Thunder forward James Henry and Thunder defenseman Joe Faust at the C.R. Wood Center at Glens Falls Hospital.
Autism Awareness Night – Presented By Upstate NY Autism Awareness
On April 3, the Thunder held Autism Awareness Night as the players wore special, Autism themed jerseys, which were auctioned off on eBay following the game. All proceeds were donated to Upstate NY Autism Awareness and the auction raised over $8,500 from jersey sales and other outlets. The game had special meaning for Adirondack defenseman Ryan Constant, who has an autistic son, in a story profiled HERE.
Glens Falls Youth Center
As the Thunder capped off 2015 and rolled into 2016, they made a special trip to the Glens Falls Youth Center, where four Thunder players, combined with the generosity of a local business partner, donated hats, mittens, tickets and food vouchers to 100 kids at the Youth Center. Thunder players Michael Kirkpatrick, Dana Fraser, James Henry and Mike Busillo then hung around after the event for a spirited game of dodgeball with the kids in attendance.
In summary, the Flames and Thunder made nearly 100 appearances throughout the community during the 2015 calendar year. The team raised over $35,000 for local charities through jersey auctions, campaigns and raffles and donated over 2,500 items, ranging from coats during the winter season to teddy bears for children around the holidays. As we head into 2016, we hope to exceed those numbers to continue to do our part towards contributing to the local community.
Otto Miller was a Queensbury hockey player who suffered a tragic fall that has left him paralyzed from the waist down in late January. The Thunder came to help, as they raised nearly $3,000 for his recovery efforts, including two 50/50 raffles at a Thunder game and the All-In For Otto Poker Tournament in March, which in itself raised over $1,400. The Thunder hosted Otto at Game 5 of Round 2 as our guest, where he dropped the ceremonial first puck before the game.
The Thunder partnered with Common Roots Brewery to create a unique beer titled Northern Border, which combined sea salt and maple syrup, celebrating the foods found at the GFCC and many of the players’ origins, coming north of the border in Canada. The beer sold out to many local bars and restaurants and a portion of the beer’s proceeds went to Otto’s recovery.
Big Brothers Big Sisters
The Thunder partnered with the Big Brothers / Big Sisters program, beginning in November, for a series of three events. On October 22, Michael Kirkpatrick and Dana Fraser led a Big / Little Mixer at the Civic Center, giving a tour of the Thunder locker room and answering questions about achieving dreams and setting goals as professional athletes. Thunder staff then gave the group a tour of the arena before everyone enjoyed pizza in Heritage Hall.
James Henry and Patch Alber then visited the Big Brothers / Big Sisters program, at the William M. Barton Middle School in Queensbury on November 20 to speak at the Middle School transition program, which matches high school students with middle school students to help ease the transition from elementary school. Alber and Henry talked about working through difficult obstacles and finding role models in their journey to becoming professional hockey players. The two Thunder skaters then played in a team building activity with the kids to help bring the group closer together.
The Thunder completed their Big Brothers / Big Sisters tour in December, as Kirkpatrick, Mike Busillo and Ryan Lomberg returned to Queensbury to spend time with a group of younger students. The Thunder players bonded with the younger students and played in some fun games with the kids. Kirkpatrick became especially close with one student (pictured below) setting up a future visit in 2016. from the team!
Post-Game Skates With The Team
The Thunder got on the ice with our local fans three times during their 2015-16 schedule, with post game skates on November 29, December 4 and April 3. The Thunder held 45-minute long open skates after the trio of games, open to all fans who were at the games. The team also held a post-game autograph session in Heritage Hall following the game on February 28, open to all fans.
Adirondack Youth Hockey Association
The Thunder and AYHA, the local youth hockey association partnered on a season-long program where Adirondack Thunder players visited practices for each team, stretching between the months of November and March.
Glens Falls Senior Center
On November 10, Thunder players visited the Glens Falls Senior Center to help pave the way for a new fence to hit the ground as part of the team’s United Way Day of Caring. Greg Wolfe, Jeff Silengo, Garrett Ladd, Kyle Flanagan, Luke Curadi, Drew Fielding and Roberts Lipsbergs took down an old rusted fence next to the parking lot, cutting down wires and clearing out old branches, leading the way for a new fence to be built during the spring.
Wives & Girlfriends – Puck Wreaths
As the calendar flipped into December, the Thunder wives and girlfriends, got in on the community action, as they put together two “puck wreaths”, which consisted of Thunder signed hockey pucks and hockey tape, which sold for a combined $1,001, with all proceeds donated to the Open Door Mission in Glens Falls. Open Door helps to provide food and meals for those who are unable to on their own.
Wives & Girlfriends – Mystery Pucks
The second project of the season for the Thunder wives and girlfriends was the Mystery Puck raffle, held over four games in late January into early-February. Each player signed a set of pucks with 8 winners (2 per game), getting to meet the player who signed their pucl after the game! The mystery puck auctions raised $2,130 and all proceeds were donated to the C.R. Wood Cancer Center, pushing our total contribution over $10,000.
Sip & Canvas
In late-November, the Thunder players visited Sip & Canvas in downtown Glens Falls, where they each took their best shot at painting a hockey themed design, created by the talented artists at Sip & Canvas. The paintings were all auctioned off and the proceeds, in excess of $500, were donated to the Tri-County United Way and their annual campaign.
School Day Game
In November, the Thunder introduced the first ever School Day Game, where Gunnar and Thunder staff made their rounds to a couple of local schools on November 17 to drop of educational workbooks and meet with kids who would come out to watch the team play the following day. Gunnar made some new friends and kids from the Ticonderoga and Putnam school districts were treated to a day they will not soon forget as the Thunder took on Norfolk in a special 10:00 a.m. start time.
On November 19, Gunnar made an even more special trip to visit 14-year old Jeffery Jackson at his home in Queensbury. Jeffery recently beat a battle with colon cancer and Gunnar dropped of a team signed stick in advance of Jeffery dropping the puck at the Thunder’s home game on December 11.
Cans, Coats & Teddy Bears
Closing out on December 14, the Thunder completed their coat, can and teddy bear collections with over 1,500 items donated to local charities. From the canned food drive on November 25, the Thunder collected over 800 non-perishable food items, donated to Open Door and Salvation Army. The November coat drive raised over 400 coats, all of which were donated to the Washington County Economic Opportunity Council and the Moreau Community Center. Finally, the Teddy Bear Toss on December 4 collected over 350 bears, all of which were donated to Salvation Army.
Glens Falls YMCA
The Summer community program led into the arrival of the Thunder players and coaches in October 2015, which kicked off an aggressive community schedule for the fall and winter of 2015, beginning at the Glens Falls YMCA on October 8, as James Henry, Mackenzie Braid, Alex Carrier and Brent Troyan attended Pedal For a Purpose to help raise awareness and funds for the YMCA’s annual event.
Cruise With The Thunder
Later that day, the Glens Falls Civic Center foundation hosted the “Cruise With The Thunder” as fans had the opportunity to step onto a boat cruise of Lake George with Thunder players and coaches. The entire team was present as they engaged with Thunder fans for the first time as a group.
The Thunder are slated to continue on their commitment to community in summer 2016, with visits to local events, non-profits and attractions currently being scheduled. If you are interested in hosting the Thunder during a summer event, we’d love to come on out! Message Zach Dooley, Director of Community Relations at email@example.com to get the Thunder at your next event!