You might not find too many hockey players more grateful to be playing the game than Griffin Bouchard.
Bouchard had to step away from the game, as a foot condition led to surgery that put him into a wheelchair for a year.
“He started off limping during baseball practice in fifth grade,” said Griffin’s mother Lori. “He was diagnosed with coalition in both of his feet. He didn’t feel the pain in hockey, but that’s different from baseball, where there’s more stomping.”
Coalition involves an abnormal connection between bones in the feet and leads to limited motion and pain. Griffin, currently a sophomore at Hamilton-Wenham High School, spent most of his sixth grade year in a wheelchair, recovering from the surgery to both feet. He currently plays hockey for the Islanders Hockey Club in the United States Premier Hockey League’s 15U Division.
“It really showed me what people in wheelchairs have to go through,” said Griffin. “I realized how they get stared at quite a bit, and it really showed me how grateful I should be to skate as much as I do.”
Boston Children’s Hospital performed the surgery and saw him through his recovery. Since then, Griffin has done what he could to help Children’s Hospital.
This year will be Griffin’s fifth year of raising money for the Boston Children's Hospital's Concussion Prevention/Brain Trauma Center.
“They were really nice, and just really helped me through it and made it feel like the whole process wasn’t as long as it was,” Griffin added.
He has raised $25,000 over the first four years, and is hoping to raise $10,000 this year. The main event for his fundraising is a Holiday Skate in Hamilton, Mass., which will feature former Boston Bruin Rick Middleton. Middleton will have his No. 16 raised to the rafters of TD Garden in Boston as the Bruins retire the number on Nov. 29. The Holiday Skate featuring Middleton will take place on Dec. 19.
The 2018 Holiday Skate takes place at Johnson Rink in Hamilton, Mass., from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Along with Middleton, other former Bruins who have joined the skate in recent years and may return include Bob Sweeney, Andrew Alberts and Mark Mowers, along with the mascot Blades The Bear.
There is a suggested donation of $10 at the door.
Through the skates, Rick Middleton and Griffin Bouchard have become friends.
“[Middleton] been at my Holiday Skates pretty much every year. I think my Mom contacted the Bruins Alumni to see if anyone could come to my skate, and they said Rick Middleton would love to,” Griffin said. “We’ve really formed a bond, and he’s been a big help in spreading the word and helping me raise money.”
Prior to the Holiday Skate, Griffin is also running a raffle for Premium Club tickets to the aforementioned Rick Middleton Night at the Boston Bruins game on Nov. 29. The Institution For Savings, a bank based on the North Shore of Massachusetts, donated the two Premium Club seats with parking for that Nov. 29 game.
The winner will also get a signed Rick Middleton No. 1 jersey. All proceeds go directly to Boston Children's Hospital. Tickets are $25 each.
The NHL Alumni Association, in conjunction with the Corey C. Griffin Foundation, have also partnered with Griffin Bouchard for fundraising. Together, they helped raise $8,600 of the overall $25,000.
Bouchard wears No. 11 with the Islanders in honor of Griffin, a former Boston College athlete who died in a tragic diving accident in 2014 at the age of 27.
“It really helps to have them also spreading the word to also help raise money for concussion prevention and research,” added Bouchard.
Cherry Farm Creamery in Danvers, Mass., also joined up with Bouchard and donated the funds through their Ice Cream For Breakfast event each winter. They’ve raised approximately $3,000 the last two years through that event.
Of course, before the Holiday Skate and the raffle prize awards are given out, there’s plenty of hockey to play. Griffin Bouchard is certainly glad he is able to get back out there after wins with his Islanders Hockey Club teammates.
“It’s great,” he said. “I get to see how much I use my legs every day.”
For raffle tickets for the Nov. 29 Rick Middleton Night tickets and signed jersey, please contact Lori Bouchard at 978-395-1401.