Forward Mike Liambas Named Iowa Wild's IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year
DES MOINES, IOWA - Iowa Wild is proud to announce forward Mike Liambas as the team's IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year for the 2019-20 season for his continued dedication to his Kindness Campaign.
When Liambas first joined the Wild during the 2018-19 season, he approached the organization's community relations department with an idea: to promote respect, kindness and teamwork amongst students of all grade levels in schools. When he was in grade school, Liambas was bullied for being overweight and that bullying has stuck with him to this day. He wants to make sure no other child has to go through what he did.
Liambas accomplishes this goal by volunteering his time and energy to speak with students across the metro at assemblies and classroom visits, and preaching being kind to others, regardless of their differences and to celebrate those differences. He speaks about working together to achieve common goals and just how important sportsmanship is, whether its opponents on the ice or the playground.
Working with the team, Liambas has reached more than 1,000 students in the Des Moines metro with his message, perhaps none more important than Oliver G. and his classmates.
Oliver attended his first Iowa Wild hockey game with his grandfather Merle earlier this season and fell in love with the sport. His first game was an evening filled with fun, laughter and lasting memories for the family, so much so, that when he received a Team Canada hockey jersey, he wore it to school the next day.
However, when he walked through the school doors, he was met with nasty comments from his fellow students. "You hate the USA," one student told him, with many others teasing him because he showed support for Canada. Oliver was shaken and crushed by how his classmates treated him and told his mother what had happened, which prompted Merle to reach out to the team.
When Liambas caught wind of Oliver's situation, he immediately met with the Wild to set up a surprise school visit for Oliver.
Liambas, a Canadian citizen, surprised Oliver and his classmates on Feb. 17, which also happened to take place during the school's "Kindness Week." Liambas shared his message of kindness with the students and made it a point to emphasize how mistreating friends just because of the teams they support was not OK. The visit was also highlighted by Oliver being selected for a "Hockey 101" segment, where he tried on the pro's full hockey equipment, which was met with cheers from his classmates.
When the visit was over, Liambas had one more surprise for Oliver. Liambas personally invited Oliver to a future Iowa Wild game, where he would sit on the bench during warm-ups and then get a post-game locker room tour, complete with autographed items and the chance to meet Liambas' teammates.
Oliver and his family were incredibly moved, writing Liambas a thank you card for surprising him and sharing such an important message at his school. Oliver's mother also shared a heartfelt social media message that received positive feedback from many other parents in the school.
In addition to his incredible work with his Kindness Campaign, Liambas has gone above and beyond during these unprecedented times due to COVID-19. Just days after the AHL season paused, Liambas collaborated with the Wild front office to work together with the Food Bank of Iowa to create a giving campaign designed to feed families in need during this crisis.
On March 19, Liambas launched the event with a video he created while also announcing Wild players would make the first donation, giving the entire players' fund to the cause. Two weeks since the announcement, Liambas has released daily social shoutouts thanking those who have donated to the cause and will invite out top-level donors to Wells Fargo Arena for a personalized VIP experience at a future game. Thanks to his dedication, Liambas, the Wild and the Food Bank of Iowa have raised more than $16,000, which will create more than 67,000 meals for the community.
Liambas is one of 31 finalists for the American Hockey League's 2019-20 Yannick Dupre Memorial Award, honoring the overall IOA/American Specialty Man of the Year. The league award is named after the former Hershey Bears forward and AHL All-Star who died in 1997 following a 16-month battle with leukemia. The winner of the Yannick Dupre Memorial Award will be announced by the AHL at a later date.
The Iowa Wild 2019-20 regular season is presented by MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center. For more information, please contact the Wild office by calling 515-564-8700 or by visiting www.iowawild.com.
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