The Rockford IceHogs established their IceHogs Charitable Foundation on March 14, 2006. The team takes pride in giving back and being a staple in the Rockford community.
The blueprint for the IceHogs Charitable Foundation was laid out by former IceHogs Team President Ryan Washatka and owners Dr. Kris Tumilowicz and Craig Drecktrah. The Northern Illinois Community Foundation helps manage the IceHogs Charitable Foundation.
Since the IceHogs inception in 1999, the team has prided itself in giving back to the community. In 20 seasons, the IceHogs have contributed nearly $1.5 million to the Rock River Valley.
The largest fundraiser held by the IceHogs is an annual Jersey Auction held out on the ice following a game. The jersey auction alone has raised well over $1 million dollars over the course of 20 auctions.
Themes for the auction have ranged from Elvis (2001) to Hammysauraus Rex (2007) and a tribute to the Burpee Museums Jane the Dinosaur to a jersey designed by Rockford native and Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen (2003).
Beneficiaries in the past have included The Autism Program, Special Olympics, March of Dimes, Muscular Dystrophy Association, Boys and Girls Clubs of Rockford, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America, Jr. IceHogs hockey program, and most recently the Bryan and Amanda Bickell Foundation.
All proceeds from every IceHogs fundraiser have been poured back into the Rockford community to benefit local charities, kids and families in need.Below is a list of charitable initiatives that the IceHogs currently persue:
Beginning in 2010, the Rockford IceHogs have hosted an Annual Bowl-a-Thon. The event takes place at Cherry Bowl in Rockford and benefits local charities. Beneficiaries in the past have been the Sydney Ives Foundation, Huntington's Disease Society of America, and Brovember. Fans have an opportunity to bowl with an IceHogs player, coach or staff member at the event while getting autographs and pictures with their favorite IceHogs. Each Bowl-a-Thon features raffle prizes, including a premium raffle, and a 50-50 drawing. During the first 10 Bowl-A-Thon events, nearly $100,000 has been raised.
Jr. IceHogs Youth Hockey Program
On August 20, 2003, the IceHogs partnered with the Rockford Park District to form the Jr. IceHogs Youth Hockey Program. The goal of the program was to increase participation in youth hockey in the area. IceHogs players and coaches make regular visits to Jr. IceHogs the importance of practices, helping teach the players fundamentals and having fun playing hockey.
Summer Reading Program
Each summer, the IceHogs partner with several area libraries for the “IceHogs Summer Reading Program.” Kids who participate receive a free IceHogs ticket voucher good for the upcoming season. This past summer, over 30 libraries, ranging from Freeport, Ill. to Walworth, Wis., participated in the reading program as the IceHogs reached over 15,000 local kids.
Hockey Fights Cancer
One of the IceHogs most popular games each season is the Annual Hockey Fights Cancer game. The organization began the initiative on Jan. 29, 2010 dying the BMO Harris Bank Center ice pink. The 2nd Annual Pink In The Rink game was held on Jan. 29, 2011 and for the first time, the IceHogs donned special jerseys. Each year now, the jerseys worn during the Hockey Fights Cancer game are auctioned off via a blind silent auction with proceeds benefiting local health initiatives.
Annual Live Jersey Auction
The IceHogs signature charity fundraiser is the organization’s annual live Jersey Auction. A tradition which began during the IceHogs inaugural season in 1999-2000, towards the end of each regular season the team wears special jerseys that get auctioned off live following the game. Each jersey them is a different depiction of the IceHogs’ mascot Hammy, and themes have ranged from St. Patrick’s Day Hammy to Hammysaurus Rex to First Responder Hammy.
In 20 auctions, the IceHogs and their generous fans have raised over one million dollars for local charities. Last season, the main benefactor was the Bryan and Amanda Bickell Foundation. Over the past 19 years, not for profit organizations such as The Autism Program, Boys Scouts and Girl Scouts, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, March of Dimes, MDA, Jr. IceHogs and more have received funds through the IceHogs Annual Jersey Auction.
Teddy Bear Toss
Each season around the holidays, the IceHogs host the Teddy Bear Toss. Fans are invited to being new stuffed animals to the select game and after the IceHogs score their first goal, fans toss the stuffed animals onto the ice. The stuffed animals are then collected and distributed throughout the community to children of need to help brighten their holiday season. There are over 20 organizations that receive the stuffed animals including hospitals, Toys For Tots, Salvation Army, Motherhouse Crisis Nursery and many others. IceHogs players and staff help deliver the stuffed animals.
Throughout the course of the season, IceHogs players, mascots and staff members make numerous of community appearances. Last season alone, the IceHogs organization made over to 200 community appearances with players, front office members and the team’s mascot (Hammy).
For more information about the IceHogs Charitable Foundation or to inquire about having the IceHogs make an appearance at your school or event, contact the team at (815) 986-6465 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
IceHogs players have made numerous appearances throughout the community over the last 20 seasons. Above (left to right) John Hayden, Tyler Sikura, Nathan Noel, and Matt Tomkins visit a local school to help make a donation to Cowboy for a Cause.
Luc Snuggerud, Bryan Bickell, and Tyler Sikura share a laugh during the 2018 jersey auction. The theme was Hawaiian Night, where the IceHogs raised over $80,000. Proceeds went towards the Bryan and Amanda Bickell Foundation.
The IceHogs annual Teddy Bear Toss brought in over 3,700 teddy bears which were donated to local children in need. Numerous IceHogs players also take part in teddy bear hospital deliveries at Swedish American Hospital and MercyHealth Hospital.