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Skate With the Pros for a Good Cause at MSU

Published 8:33am Thursday, August 13, 2009

EAST LANSING – 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 “Skate with the Pros”, featuring several former Michigan State players now playing professional hockey.

The event will be held at 2 p.m. on Wed., Aug. 19 at Munn Ice Arena. Admission will be $10 per person.

“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 1 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. All money raised through this “Shoot for a Cure” event will benefit the Brandon’s Defense Foundation (www.staystrongdoit.com).

Skate rental will also be available for $2 per pair.

For everyone’s safety, 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 the brainchild of recent Spartans Justin Abdelkader, Bryan Lerg and Jeff Lerg, all of whom were involved with MSU’s community service initiatives as undergrads and have continued to participate in MSU’s activities as their professional careers began. Abdelkader began “Shoot for a Cure” in January of 2008 as an offshoot of the Spartan Buddies program, started by East Lansing native and current Anaheim Duck Drew Miller, Spartan Buddies brought MSU athletes to the pediatric ward at Sparrow Hospital, playing games and signing autographs for seriously and critically ill children. 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 initiative was born. Since its inception in January 2008. Shoot for a Cure has raised nearly $20,000 through chuck-a-puck at MSU home games, silent auctions, and a visit from the Stanley Cup last fall.

“Michigan State’s hockey program has always been involved in the East Lansing community, and many of us consider this our second home,” notes Abdelkader. “Giving back is stressed from the moment we get on campus as freshmen, and it is part of the fabric of the program. What’s great to see is that it hasn’t ended when our playing days here are done. When we’ve asked guys to help out or donate things for our silent auctions – no one has ever said `no’. That connection is special, and unique – and I hope that people will come out to help us raise money for this important cause.”

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. Players expected to work out at this year’s Pro Camp include recent stars and fan favorites Justin Abdelkader, Jeff Lerg, Bryan Lerg, Zak McClellan, and Tim Kennedy, as well as NHL’ers Adam Hall (Tampa), Shawn Horcoff (Edmonton) John-Michael Liles (Colorado), Drew Miller (Anaheim), Jim Slater (Atlanta), and Mike Weaver (St. Louis). Both David Booth (Florida) and Ryan Miller (Buffalo) may be late-week additions to the camp after competing in the USA Hockey Olympic Camp in Chicago. In addition, several professional players who did not compete collegiately at MSU may be attending on an invitation basis.

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