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Bulldogs Foundation continuing to support local youth

Brantford BulldogsBulldogs Foundation continuing to support local youth

The Brantford Bulldogs hosted its first ever Bulldogs Foundation game in Brantford as they battled the Peterborough Petes on Sunday, February 11, 2024.

The Bulldogs Foundation’s main purpose is to promote healthy, active and empowered youth by providing funds to non-profit community groups and by supporting educational and community programs. 

Sunday’s afternoon game was held in support of Brant Food for Thought, a student nutrition program that holds similarities to the Bulldogs Foundation’s Hamilton breakfast program.

“When the foundation started, our key contribution was to feed inner-city schools in Hamilton and I’m really proud that Peggy Chapman and her team have continued to do a fantastic job there and now with the Brant Food for Thought program and other community-based initiatives here in Brantford-Brant,” said Michael Andlauer, owner of the Ontario Hockey League’s Brantford Bulldogs.

Michael Andlauer, owner of the Brantford Bulldogs, and Peggy Chapman, Executive Director of the Bulldogs Foundation, pose for a photo before the Bulldogs Foundation game on Sunday, February 11, 2024.

Peggy Chapman, Executive Director of the Bulldogs Foundation, said that the partnership with Brant Food for Thought program was a natural next step in helping to continue feeding local children.

“We actually got involved with Brant Food for Thought because they have a partnership with the FirstOntario Credit Union and because we were in the FirstOntario Centre, Joanne Battaglia from the FirstOntario Credit Union said ‘We support this amazing nutrition program in Brant and I’d really like you to meet them,’” she said.

Michael Andlauer, owner of the Brantford Bulldogs, discusses the Bulldogs Foundation during an exclusive interview with CHCH and the Brant Beacon before the game between the Peterborough Petes and Bulldogs on Sunday, February 11, 2024.

Chapman said that after looking into the program, it was clear that it was well established, and that the foundation wanted to take the opportunity to simply enhance it.

“Our foundation looked into Brant Food for Thought to see how they were running, and we noticed that they clearly know what they’re doing,” she said. “We’re a charity that doesn’t take government dollars because we want to leave that to those organizations that need it, but we’re really just here to help enhance all of that. So, at the end of the year we will write a cheque and give it to Brant Food for Thought and that’s how we’re doing it because why fix something that’s not broken?”

Peggy Chapman, Executive Director of the Bulldogs Foundation, sells raffle tickets during the Bulldogs Foundation game on Sunday, February 11, 2024.

While the team has moved to Brantford, Chapman said the foundation won’t be deserting Hamilton and will continue to aid its community and beyond.

“Let’s not divide us by the name of our cities, the Bulldogs truly represent communities from Brantford to Hamilton all the way to Oakville, Grimsby and Port Dover,” she said. “We happen to play in Brantford and love it, but we want to continue to help out those 21 Hamilton schools and their breakfast programs. Andlauer has made it clear that just because we moved, it’s not going to stop us from doing the work we’ve committed to doing. Our home is here in Brantford, but we take care of our family and the fans across many communities.”

Hamilton Tiger Cats’ players, Coulter Woodmansey, offensive lineman and Gordon Whyte, left safety, pose for a photo with Jan Chithalen, Brantford Bulldogs and Hamilton Tiger Cats’ team dentist during the Bulldogs Foundation game on Sunday, February 11, 2024.

During Sunday’s Super Bowl themed game, the Hamilton Tiger Cats’ Gordon Whyte, left safety, and Coulter Woodmansey, offensive lineman, as well as Stripes, the Ti-Cats mascot, were all in attendance to help champion the Bulldogs Foundation’s week-long 50/50 draw in support of the Brant Food for Thought program.

“The Hamilton Ti-Cats are a staple of Hamilton, they’re still our team and they’re a big part of the fundraising efforts,” said Andlauer. “So, it’s just wonderful to have them here with us tonight.”

During the game, attendees had the opportunity to help support the foundation and its mission to “face off against hunger” by purchasing 50/50 tickets, as well as by participating in a raffle for a chance to win several prizes.

Nikki Francis sells a 50/50 ticket to a Bulldogs fan during the Bulldogs Foundation game on Sunday, February 11, 2024.

While Brant Food for Thought was the focus of Sunday’s game, it isn’t the only organization benefiting from the foundation’s generosity. Chapman later noted the foundation has also teamed up with other various organizations throughout the Brantford-Brant community to help make a difference.

“We just try to do our best to help out in any way we can, so before we even dropped a puck here, we held an online 50/50 raffle in July for pediatric care at the Brant Community Healthcare System and we raised about $10,000 for them. As well, we host an annual fundraising golf tournament and this year we moved it to the Brantford Golf and Country Club, so that will be another way to raise money for the community,” said Chapman. “We’ve also teamed up with the Brant County SPCA because it really is dear to my heart. So, we help them out by selling stuff at our foundation booth and we promote their pets during the game, and they even named a group of kittens after some of our players.”

Stripes, Hamilton Tiger Cats’ mascot and Bruiser, Brantford Bulldogs’ mascot encourage the crowd to cheer during the Bulldogs Foundation game on Sunday, February 11, 2024.

Last year, the foundation also teamed up with the Brantford Community Hockey League (BCHL) for its new Take a Shot program.

“While this arena is our home, we’re roommates with the BCHL and so I asked Sandra Gagne how we can support them and she said, ‘we’ve got this great program for kids that have never had the opportunity to play hockey for various reasons,’ and so we’ve donated $35,000 to help pay for the three-session program to help get these kids playing,” she said. “It’s great because when our players went to visit the kids during the first session, I noticed that there is a great Indigenous population involved, but as well, there are new Canadians and there are some kids that didn’t speak English but they’re still learning hockey. That’s important because hockey is our national game and with how Ontario is growing, we have a lot of new Canadians and hockey may not be a part of their background, so we get to share this sport with them.”

Bruiser, Brantford Bulldogs mascot, hypes up the crowd during the Bulldogs Foundation game on Sunday, February 11, 2024.

Chapman said that the foundation is looking forward to helping more of the city’s organizations and that the summer will be the time to solidify those partnerships.

“I’ll be spending the summer meeting with more Brantford-Brant organizations to see where else we can help out. I’m the Chair of the Family Advisory Council for Mental Health at St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamilton, and so we’re passionate about supporting children and their mental health,” she said. “We are also looking into teaming up with neighbourhood associations next winter for outdoor ice rinks and so we’re hoping to organize a fundraiser for those too.”

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