Joe Kocur

Foundation For Children

Joe Kocur

Foundation For Children

OUR HISTORY

A SOLID START

Out on the ice pond, back in the winter of 2009, three friends gathered around a campfire in northern Oakland County, Michigan, deeply affected by the untimely passing of Shannon Gaber Silverthorn.

Shannon was a 911 Dispatcher for the White Lake Township and Milford Township Police and Fire Departments, due to carbon monoxide poisoning. Inspired to make a difference, they devised a plan: a “celebrity softball game” to raise funds for a charity supporting the families of fallen police officers.

The fact that one of the three friends was four-time NHL Hall of Famer, Detroit Red Wing, Joe Kocur (link to bio), boded well for the event’s ultimate success right from the very start.

And successful it was, raising $17,000 in a single, memorable summer day.

three-guys.

BUILDING ON SUCCESS

Building on the strength of this success, The Joe Kocur Foundation for Children was formally established as a 501(c)(3) entity to organize and host the Celebrity Softball Game as an annual event.

The Shannon Gaber Silverthorn Memorial Scholarship  was also established and remains one of The Foundation’s primary charity partners to this day.

The Scholarship is awarded each year to Lakeland High School graduating seniors who are embarking on a career in Law Enforcement, Fire Science, Law, or other Public Service.

The Joe Kocur Foundation is proud to say that The Shannon Gaber Silverthorn Memorial Scholarship is our longest-standing charity partnership and that we have contributed $82,000 to the fund since 2010, enabling it to provide 41 scholarships to aspiring first responders as of 2023.

A COMMUNITY OF CARING

The Foundation’s commitment to alleviating suffering soon led to the involvement—and even the creation—of other charities that are impacting children’s lives in meaningful ways. For example, The Kendal Lividini Fund, to advance leukemia research and support families affected by the disease, and another, The Play Like Jackson Foundation which supports young people grappling with the loss of a loved one.

The Foundation has also built sustaining partnerships with several established non-profit organizations that have been making a big difference in the lives of area children for years— even decades.

These include Wings of Mercy East Michigan, which provides free flights for medical treatment to those who can’t afford them, Team Huron Valley of the Special Olympics, and FAR Therapeutic Arts and Recreation, which has served thousands of people with special needs in southeastern Michigan for over 70 years. We’re honored to partner with such great organizations in making a meaningful and lasting difference in the lives of so many deserving people.

EXPANDING IMPACT

In 2010, tragedy struck our community again with the heart-wrenching loss of 4-year-old Dominick Calhoun.

In response, The Joe Kocur Foundation dedicated its inaugural Celebrity Softball Game to Dominick’s memory, attracting major local celebrities from various arenas to rally behind the cause of helping Dominick’s father and grand-father of lobby to change the State’s child abuse law.

On June 26, 2012, Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation known as “Dominick’s Law,” which strengthens penalties for child abuse in Michigan and adds penalties when abuse is committed in front of another child.

Through the following years, the Celebrity Softball Game grew, allowing it to expand the roster of charities it could support. It also occasionally provided direct funding to help families in crisis as well. The annual Celebrity Softball Games, each honoring a different member of the community who is suffering or lost a loved one prematurely, helped the whole community come to terms with such losses.

In 2012 Joe Kocur Foundation for Children staged a charity hockey game to benefit the family of fallen West Bloomfield police officer Patrick O’Rourke at Compuware Arena before a standing-room-only crowd, estimated at 3,500-4,000.

Several former NHL players competed in this game, including all four ‘Grind Line’ members (Joe Kocur, Darren McCarty, Kirk Maltby, and Kris Draper) as well as Hockey Hall of Famers Dino Ciccarelli, Larry Murphy, Igor Larionov and honorary coaches Ted Lindsay and Bill Gadsby. Other participants included goaltender Chris Osgood, defenseman Jiri Fischer, left winger John Ogrodnick, and Foster Hewitt Memorial Award recipient Mickey Redmond, among others.

A team comprised of local law enforcement officers participated in this contest against the celebrities. 100% of the Net Proceeds went to the family trust of Officer O’Rourke.

THE POWER OF TEAMWORK

Each of the Foundation’s charity partners is vital to the fulfillment of our mission to lift up our community’s most vulnerable members.
Together, we are fostering better relations between law enforcement and the public, providing vital resources to children and families in crisis, helping to create more fulfilling lives, and building a community of compassion and caring.
Our vision for the future remains steadfast. With the disruption caused by COVID 19 pandemic, the Foundation transitioned to hosting Golf Events in lieu of the softball games in order to sustain support for their charities and local families in need.

LEGACY

Since our inception, the generous support of our local community has enabled us to raise close to 2 million dollars.

This is a testament to the power of collective action and the generosity of our friends and neighbors.

As we move forward into the future, The Joe Kocur Foundation holds fast to its vision of a community where every child can thrive, and every family feels supported in times of need.

“We’re proud of what we’ve built together. Thank you for being a part of the team”

three-guys

Ron Mann, Joe Kocur and Chris Baker

Kristen & Joe Kocur

“Life isn’t all fun and games. Many in our community can be overwhelmed by it at times. But when we come together as a community of caring and compassion, we can help them overcome their challenges.

When we do, we have a great time and build bonds with our friends and neighbors in the process.

Please join our team. Together, we are changing lives.”

“Together we are changing lives.”

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2017 Softball IMG_2954
2017 Softball for Hour Kathy Figliuolo, Laura Figliuolo