PHILADELPHIA (June 12, 2024) - Today, Flyers Charities announced a $200,000 donation in support of local 11-year-olds Natalie Van Druff and Lilly Walter’s effort to save their local ball hockey rink. As a result of the funding, Van Druff and Walter’s proposal to save their beloved rink was officially approved by New Hanover Township’s Board of Supervisors in partnership with The Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation last month. The revitalization of the rink will be underway before the end of the month with Flyers Charities and New Hanover Township planning to host a grand opening event at the Township’s Community Park (2798 Gail Drive in Gilbertsville, PA) on Wednesday, August 7.

“When we learned of Lilly and Natalie’s remarkable initiative to preserve their community’s beloved ball hockey rink, it was an unequivocal decision to rally behind them,” said Blair Listino, President of Flyers Charities. “One of our main pillars is growing the game of hockey and their determination to make a difference exemplifies that. With this donation, we are thrilled to help them create a space where their passion for the sport can thrive and their neighbors are inspired to embrace hockey.”

Earlier this month, Lilly and Natalie were treated to a special visit to Flyers Training Center in Voorhees, NJ where Flyers forward Garnet Hathaway and Gritty surprised the girls with news of Flyers Charities’ donation to support their ongoing mission. Hathaway and Gritty presented the girls with the $200,000 check before gifting them with Flyers merchandise and posing for photos.

“This experience has been so amazing. The feeling I get when I think about it is beyond words,” said Natalie Van Druff. “I’m so grateful that the township approved our proposal for our dream hockey home. I’d also like to thank Flyers Charities for donating $200,000 to make it happen. I never would have thought that we would build a hockey rink with our favorite team!”

“Thank you, Flyers Charities for helping me and Natalie make our hockey home the safest and coolest dek ever!” said Lilly Walter.

“We are thankful beyond words for Flyers Charities’ tremendous generosity and support with this timeless and priceless gift,” said Kate Van Druff, Natalie’s mom. “Also, being backed by our favorite hockey team, the Philadelphia Flyers, is nothing short of a dream come true. That word ‘dream’ keeps coming up a lot - and how could it not? Imagine being 11 years old and this is your life. As a mom watching it all unfold, it’s truly surreal.”

Originally an unsafe asphalt surface surrounded by chain link fence, Flyers Charities’ donation will assist the township with refurbishing the rink to create a safe and functional ball hockey rink for young athletes like Van Druff and Walter to continue to meet up with friends and hone their hockey skills. The donation will cover installing new flooring and boards, building benches and penalty boxes, and providing new hockey nets.

“On behalf of the Board of Supervisors, we are immensely proud of these girls and deeply appreciate the partnership of Flyers Charities, the Philadelphia Flyers and the Pottstown Health and Wellness Foundation in bringing this vision to life,” said Jamie L. Gwynn, New Hanover Township Manager. “We hope this moment serves as a powerful reminder to our youth that they are never too young to make a positive difference in their community.”

“Thank you to two inspiring youth, Lilly and Natalie, for making their voices heard through their love of hockey, while seizing an opportunity to take action to bring the sport of hockey to others in our community,” said Dave Kraybill, President of The Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation.“The Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation is honored to be able to work with Lilly and Natalie and their families, Flyers Charities, and New Hanover Township to accept this gift on their behalf for such a worthy project that will benefit our community for many years to come.”

As part of Flyers Charities’ effort to grow the game of hockey, the New Hanover rink rebuild serves as one of many rebuild projects Flyers Charities has completed to continually provide accessible entry points to the game of hockey. Since its relaunch in 2021, Flyers Charities has donated $700,000 towards growing the game of hockey by helping to revitalize local rinks throughout the Greater Philadelphia Region.