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Score for Your School VIP Party

by Joshua Berenter / Detroit Red Wings

(Photo by Detroit Red Wings Staff)

DETROIT – For the Detroit Red Wings, the culmination of this season will take place in two weeks during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

For the students that participate in the Red Wings’ Score for your School Fundraising Program, the culmination of their efforts took place Sunday afternoon with a VIP Party at Joe Louis Arena.

More than 2,000 students were in attendance at this season’s VIP Party after reaching fundraising goals by selling four or more tickets to a Red Wings game, with a portion of the proceeds returning to their school.

Students and their families in attendance had the opportunity to skate on the Joe Louis Arena ice, tour the Red Wings locker room, play interactive games and enjoy food and entertainment on the arena concourse.

Attendees also had the chance to win raffle prizes and take photos by Nick Lidstrom’s retired No. 5 jersey banner, the Red Wings’ Zamboni and Al the Octopus.

The student who sold the most tickets from each participating school also received an autographed stick from a Red Wings player.

9-year-old Christian Cassar was one of the students who earned an autographed stick after selling the most tickets at Musson Elementary in Rochester. Cassar and his family were delighted to receive an invitation to spend the afternoon at The Joe.

“It’s awesome, a once-in-a-lifetime event” Cassar’s father, Mark, said. “In my 45 years, I’ve never gotten to see the arena like this. I think it’s really cool that we’re able to spend the day as a family and come down and experience this whole event and see all the behind-the-scenes things.”

Cassar started his ticket sales fundraising after the Red Wings School Assembly Program visited his school last October.

Created in 2010, the School Assembly Program encourages students to live an active and healthy lifestyle and introduces them to the sport of hockey through a street and floor hockey initiative.

In addition to introducing the Score for Your School Fundraising Program, the Red Wings donate two sets of floor hockey equipment to each school during their visits, and provide hands-on instruction to familiarize kids with hockey.

(Photo by Detroit Red Wings Staff)

Sara Turnbull, the Red Wings’ event marketing coordinator and School Assembly Team member, organized this season’s VIP Party and said she relished the opportunity to see the students and thank them for contributing to the fundraising program.

“Seeing the kids again that we see during our assemblies is awesome. A lot of them recognize us as coaches and will tell us they’ve been eating healthy or working on their goals,” Turnbull said. “It’s great to see that they remember what we talked about and are excited about doing good things for themselves and their school.”

The concept of the School Assembly Program was the brainchild of Red Wings group sales fundraising coordinator Carolynn Gleich. When Gleich created the program five years ago, the team visited just 10 schools, but because of tremendous execution and overwhelmingly positive responses, the program has grown exponentially with the team now visiting 115 schools each school year.

“It’s just positive feedback everywhere we go,” Gleich said. “The team does such a great job. They are so enthusiastic. The schools love the message. It’s just really positive all around, and I think it definitely makes an impact.”

(Photo by Detroit Red Wings Staff)

The backbone of the School Assembly Team is Jim Biewer, the Wings’ director of event marketing and game presentation. Biewer is the emcee of each assembly and receives praise for his energetic positivity and unrelenting passion during every visit.

“He makes each kid feel special at every school. He’s got so much enthusiasm,” Gleich said about Biewer. “Not everyone can do what coach Jim does. That’s why he’s great at it.”

Since its inception, the School Assembly Team has visited a total of 441 local schools, reaching more than 222,000 students and providing 882 sets of equipment to physical education departments throughout southeastern Michigan.

“It’s our goal within the program to grow the sport of hockey,” Biewer said. “Along with the messaging of eating healthy and getting exercise, tying in the Red Wings really hits home for the kids.”

During the 2014-15 season, the Score for Your School Fundraising Program has returned $65,000 back to local schools, a number that was emphatically celebrated Sunday at The Joe.

“It’s the biggest event we’ve ever had for the School Assembly Program. It’s amazing,” Biewer said about the VIP Party. “You walk around the arena here and there is nothing but smiles on kids’ faces because it’s an opportunity they don’t normally get. It’s a fun day for everyone. It’s mind-blowing that we had this many kids selling tickets and raising money for their school.”

For more information or to register your school for a visit from the Detroit Red Wings School Assembly Program next season, visit

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