Never before has CONSOL Energy Center hosted such an energetic and enthusiastic crowd as they did during the Pittsburgh Penguins’ pre-season match up against the Minnesota Wild on September 24th. For the promotion known as “Free Game for Kids,” the Penguins distributed 18,000 tickets to area youth to thank them for their support.
Tickets were distributed to local youth hockey organizations, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League (PIHL), Tickets for Kids Foundation, Hill District Youth, members of the TGI Friday’s Penguins Kids Club, local university students, the Little Penguins’ Learn-To-Play program and a number of local charities who serve children.
In addition, a few lucky kids were able to enjoy the game from their very own party suite. The Pittsburgh Penguins reserved one of their finest suites for 16 young Penguins’ fans from Autism Speaks, Make-A-Wish Foundation and The Children’s Institute. Aside from a great view of the game, each child received a gift bag and a surprise visit from Iceburgh, the Penguins’ mascot.
The “Free Game for Kids” gave the Penguins organization a chance to make a difference in the lives of some of their youngest fans through their partnerships with local charities.
Marketing/Communications coordinator at the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater PA and Southern WV, Dana Antkowiak, stated, “Our partnership with the Penguins gives the children a chance to forget about their illnesses and take part in some great fun with other kids who share their love of hockey. Our Wish kids enjoy these experiences immensely – their smiles say it all.”
When the puck dropped at the start of the game, the suite echoed with cheers for their favorite team. This was the first time attending a game for many of the young fans, and the excitement certainly showed on their faces. Twelve-year-old Sydney Nury, from The Children’s Institute, told us, “My brother has been to hockey games before, and I couldn’t wait to tell him that I finally get to go to one too!”
The party suite provided an opportunity for families to have a “game day” experience together and put all other things temporarily in the backs of their minds. “This is an amazing experience for our family because if it wasn’t for the Penguins it wouldn’t be possible to come to a game together as a family,” said Billie Jo Robinson, mother of Make-A-Wish child, Dalton Robinson.
Over all, the “Free Game for Kids” was a tremendous success, and the Penguins are hoping to continue the tradition of involving their young fans. Roya Kousari, Marketing and Communications Director at The Children's Institute said, "When you create an experience that makes kids forget about the things that make them different, you've done something truly amazing. That's exactly what the Penguins do for our kids."