Growing Lehigh Valley Winter Classic continues for good cause
The Lehigh Valley Winter Classic is back for a fourth straight year and just like each of the prior installments, it's bigger than the year before.
Hosted by the Lehigh Valley Whalers, the 2017 Classic on Jan. 28 at the Bethlehem Municipal Ice Rink has grown to eight games with the first kicking off the event at 8 a.m. and the final taking place at 8 p.m.
All proceeds from the event will benefit Special Hockey of the Lehigh Valley, a program that allows individuals with special needs and developmental difficulties the chance to play the sport in a way that is suited to their individual abilities. The money raised goes toward ice time, tournament fees and equipment costs.
The featured game is at 9:30 a.m. when the Lehigh Valley Polar Bears and Bucks County Admirals, both hockey clubs with players with special needs, hit the ice.
The lineup also features a collegiate matchup between Lehigh University and Duquesne at 3:30 p.m.
There will be a charity raffle along with food and Winter Classic merchandise available for purchase.
According to Joe Guellnitz, the president and founder of Special Hockey of the Lehigh Valley, in just under three years the program has gone from six skaters to more than 20 and the Winter Classic has been a big boost to their efforts.
Adam Bortz, the Lehigh Valley Winter Classic's chair who is also involved with the Whalers, explained how perfect the partnership has been with Special Hockey of the Lehigh Valley.
"The Whalers felt we had a unique opportunity to give back in our community, and when we heard what Joe and [co-founder of Special Hockey of the Lehigh Valley] Nicole [Jensen-Guellnitz] were trying to do with Special Hockey, it was a natural fit," Bortz said in a news release. "Giving kids that would not normally have the opportunity to participate in a game that has given so much to each of us on the team, has been a great experience. We feel fortunate to be aligned with such a great cause, and look forward to helping Special Hockey to continue to help expand their program in our community."
Donations for the event can be made through a fundraising page online at https://www.gofundme.com/lvwinterclassic2017.