Shayne Gostisbehere fires slap shots like he wants to put them through goalies, not just past them.
There’s fury in his expression as he competes in hockey at its highest level.
But when the lights go down and the Flyers head for the parking lot, the thoughts of “Ghost’’ become more humanitarian in nature.
The third-year defenseman recently started his own “GhostBear’’ Foundation to help the Pennsylvania SPCA, because animals have been dear to him since he was a child.
And speaking of children, the GhostBear fund also helps young children with health issues achieve their dreams by way of support to organizations who help these kids with the development of aspiring collegiate and/or professional hockey careers.
The GhostBear Foundation’s efforts focus within the communities of Philadelphia, South Florida (Gostisbehere’s hometown is Pembroke Pines, Fla.) and Schenectady, N.Y., which is the home of Union College, the school which Ghost led to the NCAA hockey championship in 2014.
Through unique platforms and events, The GhostBear Foundation supports ill and disabled children, as well as at-risk or endangered animals. The objective is to see persons and organizations thrive as benefactors of these initiatives.
Gostisbehere and his girlfriend, Gina, have two dogs (Cooper and Pippa) of their own, so it’s easy to see why they are focusing some of their efforts in the direction of animals.
“I’ve always been passionate about animals and to be able to use the GhostBear Foundation to support and create awareness for such a great cause as the PSPCA is an honor,” said Gostisbehere.
Since 1867, the Pennsylvania SPCA, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization headquartered at 350 East Erie Ave., Philadelphia, has been dedicated to preventing animal cruelty and rescuing animals from abuse and neglect.
The Pennsylvania SPCA’s lifesaving programs for animals include a low-cost veterinary clinic, low-cost spay and neuter services, pet adoption facilities, and the Pennsylvania SPCA Humane Law Enforcement Department.
“I’ve always had dogs my whole life,’’ Gostisbehere said. “We love animals in general and to combine the two – sick children and animals in need – it’s just a perfect combination for us.’’
Gostisbehere, who finished runnerup for the Calder Trophy his rookie season, is enjoying an excellent campaign for the Flyers and has been among the top handful of NHL defensemen scoring stats all season.
Response to his foundation has been excellent.
“It’s all been positive,’’ he said. “It’s been great. We’ve had one event so far (a fundraiser on Dec. 15 at the Punchline Philly Comedy Club). We raised a good amount of money.’’
Gostisbehere understands it’s important for athletes to give back to the community and for him, this seems like a natural way to do it.
“It’s huge,’’ he said. “We have this platform, we might as well use it. It’s a big thing to be a professional athlete, you’re always in the limelight.
“To do it for a positive outlook on something that’s charitable, that’s huge for us. It’s important for us as professional athletes to give back to the community.’’
For more information about adopting, donating or volunteering, please call (215) 426-6300 or visit www.pspca.org.
Contact information for the GhostBear Foundation can be found on Twitter and Instagram (@GB_Foundation), Snapchat (GBFoundation) and Facebook (@GhostBearFoundation).