Hockey has a long, rich history of charity and giving. Our culture is about family, friends, support, and encouragement. So when Hearts of Hockey had the chance to feature an interview with the founder of Pink in the Rink, a charitable organization rooted in hockey, there was no question we wanted to jump on board!
Hello Jason, thank you for taking the time to let our readership learn about Pink in the Rink.
For those readers who may just now be hearing about Pink in the Rink, can you please tell us about what you do and who are?
We are a group of Hockey players and friends of those who have been directly and/or indirectly effected by breast cancer, and want to help make a difference in the fight against cancer. Pink in the rink was formed and started by Jason “Chase” Choiniere in partnership with the Manchester Monarchs. Longtime friend, Brian Williams joined Chase in the effort after his deceased wife and mother of his son, Stephanie lost her battle with leukemia which she was diagnosed with as a result of her breast cancer treatments. After realizing how little was actually being donated due to the large overhead cost, roughly $3,500. They decided to pull away and start their own local community driven pink in the rink event.
Chase and Brian solely organized their very own first Pink in the Rink charity event at, and with the help of Tri -Town Ice arena in Hooksett, NH. Many of us, friends and family participated in the event as volunteers and players. This first time event raised and donated $17,759 to the American Cancer Society, a 500% increase from previous years.
Realizing the huge success and potential to grow, they reached out to friends and acquaintances for assistance in creating an official registered organization starting with a board of Directors. Together, we formed “Pink in the Rink” a nonprofit charity organization registered with the State of NH and IRS. All members including the board of directors are 100% volunteers, allowing us to operate with little to low overhead costs.
We raise money through the game of Hockey by holding an all-day fun filled event surrounding several games, a youth game and adult game. Throughout the day we have sponsor booths, face painting, balloons, live music, food and games. We raise money through ticket sales, t-shirt and jersey sales, raffle tickets and most importantly our sponsor donations.
Tell us about Wheels to Recovery.
The Wheels to Recovery Program is currently on hold due to lack of funding but, The Wheels to Recovery Program is designed to assist patients with transportation to and from appointments for cancer treatments in the Southern New Hampshire and Massachusetts area. In 2014 alone, Hillsborough County had over 2,600 transportation requests through the American Cancer Society. Out of those requests, just under 1,200 came from Catholic Medical Center and The Elliot Hospital alone. Sadly, only 157 patients were able to be accommodated. It is our mission to help bridge the gap and someday provide a fleet of vehicles so no one is left missing an appointment.
Our program is based on a partnership with Merchants Auto of Hooksett, NH who donated the vehicle and Gallant Insurance, in coordination with the Pink in the Rink organization and the American Cancer Society. The Wheels to Recovery Program is reliant on long-term sponsorships and donations to cover vehicle fuel and maintenance costs.
Our Wheels to Recovery drivers complete training through the American Cancer Society, have a current, valid driver’s license and proof of automobile insurance. Drivers must be between the ages of 18-84 and be willing to have a background check and motor vehicle records check to ensure volunteer and patient safety. Once approved, volunteer drivers donate their time and use our vehicle to drive patients to and from their treatments. Please contact us for more information if you are interested in volunteering as a driver.
You’re based in New Hampshire, so a lot of your events and your work benefits close to home, are there plans to expand your reach beyond New England?
We eventually would like to venture outside of New England, we have connections in Washington DC with the Capitals organization that would like to partner with us to do an event at their Kettler Ice-Plex practice facility as well as connections within Massachusetts that own various rinks that would like to do an event. We are still in our infancy as an organization and currently rely on dynamic donations and volunteer help. We hope to develop static supporters financially and physically so we can expand our organization into multiple locations, holding multiple events over multiple locations.
Pink in the Rink recently made a $10,000.00 donation to the American Cancer Society; how does it feel to be able to make a donation of that size to such an important organization?
It feels great to be able to make a donation of that size and help make a difference. Although the face value of the check was $10,000 the actual value to us is 10 times that. We the board members and volunteers have worked hard and put in many hours of our own time to organize our event, find sponsors, coordinate entertainment, etc,, over the course of the year for the one event. Again, we are 100% non-profit so everything we do to prepare, comes from our own time put in.
What is the most memorable moment for your as part of Pink in the Rink?
As much as the great feeling I had handing over the check to the ACS, I’d still have to say the event day is the most memorable time. Between all of our sponsors, volunteers, friends, family, and team players finally all coming together and executing the event that we’ve all been working hard to get to. Remember, we’re all mostly hockey players so there’s that comradery [sic], the locker room shenanigans between us players as we prepare for our adult game. It’s a great time unwinding and stress relieving from the crunch time of the weeks leading up to the event.
Your online store at pinkinrink.org has some great products and donation offerings; which are your favorites and why?
My favorite item is our Pink in the Rink Hockey stick line. As a player, finding a good stick at an affordable price is always a pain but our sticks, we work with the manufacturer that makes pro level sticks, and we don't have the overhead like other companies so you're not paying for the BIG name on the stick. You're getting the same great technology and performance from our hockey sticks. I personally have bought 3 Cancer Hammers, they are my favorite, although I have given two of them away at other events, one The Draft Tournament in Montreal last summer and another local tournament. I hate parting with them but if it helps spread our name, I’ll do it for the cause.
What kind of plans do you have for 2017?
We plan on continuing our yearly event in which we believe will be April/May time frame. We are still working with the rink and local club schedules to nail down a date and will advertise it as soon as we lock it down. Facebook is the best source of information from our organization. Our other mission is finding means of exposure so we can grow our organization, so we greatly appreciate this opportunity.
If someone wanted to get involved with Pink in the Rink, how can they get in contact with you?
Facebook is the best means for contacting us and finding current information. All of the board members are tied into our Facebook account so we all see messages and posts to our page. Our website also contains contact information but not for current information. We’re hockey players not website admin so we’re working to find an admin to help us maintain a fluid webpage.
You can shop and donate through their website, located here.