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Charity event gives fans chance to skate with (or against) Jack Johnson

by Staff / Columbus Blue Jackets

Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson grew up in Ann Arbor, playing for the United States National Team Development Program and then becoming a superstar at the University of Michigan.

His good friend Justin Spiro, whom Johnson has known for more than 15 years, started the Andrew Singler Memorial Cup to raise money for the foundation established in Singler's name. Singler, a friend of Spiro's, was a Michigan State University senior killed in 2013.

Michael Caples of MiHockey spoke to Spiro recently about the charity game, the wide range of skill sets that you'll see on the ice, and how Johnson's involvement has helped transform the event.

Read an excerpt below:


Dating back to their middle school days, every year Justin Spiro would organize an exhibition hockey game for he and his friend Jack Johnson to skate in.

Yes, that Jack Johnson.

“I just go way back with Jack,” Spiro told MiHockey. “We’re friends from our middle-school days. We used to do an exhibition hockey game even as seventh and eighth graders. Almost every summer, just got a bunch of guys together and played. There was no real purpose behind it, originally.”

When Spiro lost a friend to a tragic incident, however, he decided it was time to make the event more significant. Last year, Spiro turned his informal skate with his friend-turned-NHL-star friend into the Andrew Singler Memorial Cup, a now annual skate that raises money for the Andrew Singler Stay Strong Foundation.

Singler, a college friend of Spiro’s, was killed during his final year of undergraduate studies at Michigan State University in 2013.

“His family set up the Andrew Singler Stay Strong Foundation, which established a scholarship at Michigan State in his honor, given to an underprivileged youth that qualified that couldn’t otherwise afford to go to school,” Spiro said. “I had the idea to benefit the fund, I think we could do pretty well by turning it into a public event, instead of just having Jack and I play with our friends and family and whatnot, and make this as a public thing, get to play hockey with an NHL player and have all the proceeds go to the foundation.

“We did that last summer for the first time, where we made it a public thing, and did pretty well with it. We’re looking to hopefully do better this year – we already have more people committed to play and attend this year than we had last year and we still have a little bit more time to go. It’s looking pretty good.”

The second annual Andrew Singler Memorial Cup will take place at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube on August 1, and there are still a few open spots on the rosters. A $20 donation can get hockey players of any skill level a spot on a team either with the Columbus Blue Jackets standout defenseman, or against him.

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