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August 7, 2012

Great Lakes Summer Classic aims to raise $8,000 for Make-A-Wish

By Mike Moore
C & G Sports Writer

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Great Lakes Summer Classic aims to raise $8,000 for Make-A-Wish
Following last year’s the Great Lakes Summer Classic, the two teams posed on the ice for a photo. In total, $4,500 was raised for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The goal this year is $8,000.

When the totals came in a year ago, $4,500 had been raised and one child was headed to Disneyworld with his family.

A dream had officially come true.

As the scorching days of summer continue, an ice rink in Fraser aims to serve some cool relief and a brand-new mission of hope and charity.

At 3 p.m. on Aug. 12, for the second straight year, the Great Lakes Summer Classic will officially drop the puck on a gung-ho effort to raise as much money as possible for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

“We’re aiming for $8,000 this time,” said the game’s co-founder, Commerce Township resident James Vish. “To do $4,500 last year was awesome, but this is a group that’s very ambitious and wanted to aim even higher.”

Vish, whose team, the Vishamaniacs, will take part in the game against friends and volunteers on another team, helped create the event with Sterling Heights resident Jordan Cole.

According to an official press release for the game, Cole was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at age 15. The disease affects the lungs and pancreas.

For nearly two years, this avid hockey fan and player was unable to step on the ice.

“I was just so sick and really didn’t know what was going on,” Cole, now 20, said. He’ll also be playing in the game. “After getting diagnosed and being sick, I missed about a year and half of hockey, and it was rough. It was a game I played since I was 5, but I couldn’t do it anymore.”

Cole, who said he’s “good right now, but still battling,” had his dream come true when the Make-A-Wish Foundation granted his wish.

“I got to skate with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg down at Joe Louis,” he explained. “They took me in the locker room to meet a bunch of the team. I got a signed jersey and a signed stick. I got to talk to Kris Draper on the bench. It was one of the best days I’ve ever had.”

It also gave way to his idea for the Great Lakes Summer Classic.

“It all kind of started after my wish with the Red Wings,” Cole explained. “I was finally playing hockey again, and a few of us were talking about starting something like this for charity. I didn’t think there was any better way to make someone’s wish come true than by doing it with this game.”

Tickets for this year’s game, held at Great Lakes Sports City in Fraser, are $5 at the door. Fans can start entering the arena at 2:30 p.m.

Vish said those in attendance will able to play a number of different games and take part in many raffles for Reebok and Warrior Sports gear, among other prizes.

The $8,000, he said, will hopefully come by way of ticket sales, raffle money and cooperate sponsorship of the event.

“That’s the key,” Vish said of any interested companies and businesses getting involved. “We hope there are plenty of groups out there that want to be part of something like this.”

Asked why he and Cole have put so much work into the game over the past few years, Vish was, literally, speechless.

“It’s just so hard to describe,” he said. “I mean, you see what these kids go through. To just give them a little bit of happiness. To do something for them at a time they need it most. I don’t know. It’s tough to put it to words. … The thing is, we really need everyone’s help. To raise this money and (make) some dreams come true would be pretty special for all of us.”

“What we’ve done means so much to me,” Cole added. “To send a kid to Disneyworld last year was amazing. I mean, we expected it to be big, but not as big as it ended up being. Now, we’re hoping for even more this year.”

For more information on the event, or to donate to or sponsor the game, visit the official event website at www.greatlakessummerclassic.com.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mike Moore at mmoore@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1038. Twitter Follow Mike on Twitter.