Friday, June 04, 2010

Whalers participate in special Camp Day

The Plymouth Whalers took a shift away from Compuware Arena and other Ontario Hockey League rinks on Wednesday - for a good cause.

The Whalers participated in Tim Hortons Camp Day on Wednesday at four Detroit-area locations as the various Tim Hortons stores raised money for the Tim Hortons Children's Foundation.

A portion of each beverage purchased at Tim Hortons during Camp Day send children from all over Canada and the United States to camp. In 2009, Camp Day raised more than $8.5 million U.S.

Although Monroe natives Matt and RJ Mahalak were scheduled for a two-hour appearance at the Monroe Tim Hortons on North Telegraph road, they stayed another 90 minutes for the cause (pictured above).

“We’re sending eight families from Monroe County to camp this year," said Janelle Summers, manager at Tim Hortons in Monroe. "(Based on the advanced publicity), everyone is making sure they come through today and they are making a point to tell us they are helping."

Summers is no stranger to the synergy between Tim Hortons, hockey and the Whalers. She grew up and went to school in Trenton and coached competitive cheerleading there later.

“All my friends played hockey for Trenton,” she said. “We went to the REPLAY game (Trenton-Catholic Central May 9 at Compuware Arena) with my kids and it was awesome.”

Tim Hortons store owner Brian Reicker grew up in Canada, but lives in Monroe.

“It makes a difference in our store when two local boys make an appearance," he said. "A lot of people know the Mahalaks since they first started up in youth hockey many, many years ago. There are Whaler fans here in Monroe County, even though we may be 45 minutes from (Compuware) arena."

As the father of two children, Reicker has a unique perspective about the draw of the Whalers to families.

“As a consumer and parent, I have two young kids (Ben, 6 and Sarah, 8) and I’m also a Red Wings season ticket holder," Reicker said. "My kids are actually indifferent to the Red Wings or Whalers (as individuals), but to be honest, they have a better experience attending Whalers games. They love going to Plymouth.

“The events that go on (in the arena), the pucks that go to center ice (Chuck-a-Puck), the involvement with the players after the game in the dressing room – those things are huge for kids. And that’s how you build your brand. The players are your product and they are used properly. They aren’t used in a stand-offish way – they are used in a very interactive and engaging interactive way. And that’s big as to how you connect with people.”

While the Mahalaks made their appearance in Monroe, Tyler Seguin, Nick Malysa and Plymouth mascot Shooter worked at the Tim Hortons on Michigan Avenue in Canton, Stefan Noesen, Max Iafrate and Scott Wedgewood worked the Tim Hortons on Ford Road in Canton and Austin Levi and Garrett Meurs took a shift on Plymouth Road in Plymouth.

The Whalers - and everyone working at Tim Hortons on Camp Day - connected well for a great cause.

Photo by Pete Krupsky

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