By @StefanKubus and @MichaelCaples –
DETROIT – Though the Detroit Red Wings’ season ended earlier than it had hoped, it’s not stopping the team from making an impact off the ice.
The Red Wings teamed up with the Children’s Hospital of Michigan and Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation to unveil a 1,700-square foot Red Wings Play Zone on Wednesday. Al Sobotka and Jimmy Howard were present to help with the ribbon-cutting ceremony and introduce children to their new toys.
“Being a parent myself, I couldn’t imagine being one of these parents going through this, so to be able to come down here and help celebrate this new play structure thanks to our fans and our great organization, it’s a huge honor for me,” Howard said.
“For these kids, they go through so much and they’re so strong. For them to come out here and have a little bit of normalcy and just be kids, it’s huge for them.”
Photos by Michael Caples/MiHockey
Located at the southwest corner of the Detroit hospital, the outdoor play area was constructed to provide a safe and fun area for the hospital’s patients and their families, featuring a custom 8-foot-tall by 10-foot-wide Al the Octopus sensory structure. Some of the other highlights include: a SmartPlay tree house with a slide, a Cozy Dome quiet space and rubber safety surfacing branded with the Wings’ logo.
The Red Wings Play Zone is also ADA-accessible and will offer an outdoor setting for patients’ rehabilitation programs.
In partnership with the Children’s Hospital of Michigan and the Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation, the Red Wings Play Zone was made possible thanks to donations to the Red Wings Wish Club, which allows fans to submit a special message to be displayed on the video board during Red Wings’ home games by donating to the Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation.
“We thank our fans for being part of this, we thank Children’s Hospital for the things they’ve done, and the beautiful thing about this is it lets kids be kids,” Olympia Entertainment President and CEO Tom Wilson said. “Those magical moments for the parents and for the children when they get forget about IVs and they can forget about shots and they can forget about all struggles just for a moment. That’s the magic, that’s the magic of something like this, and that’s the magic Children’s Hospital does every day.
Since 1995, the Red Wings Wish Club has raised more than $400,000 for the Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation.