When people speak of the late Corey Griffin ’10, they mention his generosity and kindness. They mention his warm and friendly presence. He was a person who often was the center of attention but was careful never to let anyone feel left out.
“He always wanted people to feel like they were the most important people in the room,” says Chris Sabo ’10, who was a teammate of Griffin’s on Babson’s ice hockey team. “He thought it was cool to be kind to people.”
That’s what made him a great person to be around. “He cared about everybody,” says Jamie Rice ’90, now in his 19th season as coach of the ice hockey team. “He was a great teammate. Above all, that’s what I think. He treated everybody the same, with the same generosity. Everyone was family to him.”
Griffin may have passed away some eight years ago, but his spirit, along with the youth-focused foundation that was started in his name, remain a big part of the Babson community, particularly among the ice hockey team and its student-athletes, past and present. Current players volunteer at Corey C. Griffin Foundation events, and their locker room is named for Griffin. Last season, they wore foundation jerseys during a game. Alumni, meanwhile, support the foundation by donating and by taking on leadership roles in the organization.
Go to a hockey game, or take a walk around campus, and odds are you will see someone sporting a foundation logo. “There is probably not a day that you don’t see a hockey player wearing a Corey Griffin hat,” Rice says. “My goal as coach is to have young men who are invested in the total Babson College experience, and a big part of that is the Corey Griffin Foundation.”
During his life, Griffin was dedicated to philanthropy. Among other things, he was on the board of the NHL Alumni Pro-Am charity hockey tournament. Right before he died, at the age of 27 in a 2014 drowning accident in Nantucket, Massachusetts, he had raised $100,000 for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Founded shortly after Griffin’s death, the Corey C. Griffin Foundation continues his legacy of giving back. It partners with Boston-area nonprofits such as Boston Children’s Hospital and the care provider Franciscan Children’s to focus on youth who are underprivileged or are facing medical issues.
The foundation funds scholarships, afterschool programs, leadership training, mental health initiatives, and food assistance. It’s also working to build a facility where parents can stay while their children are undergoing medical treatment.
“We are trying to focus on children who are disadvantaged in some way, whether financially, educationally, or with health problems,” says Sabo, who serves on the foundation’s board. “The goal is to provide support for those children and change the trajectory of their lives.”
“Once you see what the foundation does, and the impact you can have at a young age, you see a purpose to be a part of.”
Grady Zink ’19, a member of the Emerging Leaders Council of the Corey C. Griffin Foundation
Sabo became friends with Griffin when they were both on the hockey team. “We were playing on the same line together,” he says. “I sat next to him in the locker room.” After Griffin died, Sabo set about raising money in Griffin’s name for Babson, and Sabo was struck by how the community was so inspired to come together in his memory. “Our goal was to raise $1,500,” Sabo says. “We did that in a day.”
That experience led to Sabo’s involvement in the foundation. Through the years, he has watched it flourish and make a difference. “We’re keeping his name alive, but it has evolved into something bigger,” Sabo says. “It has transcended him. It is really doing great things.”
Early on, much of the foundation’s growth could be attributed to the many people whom the gregarious Griffin had known in his life. “So much of the momentum was the connections he had made,” Grady Zink ’19 says.
That has changed as the organization has grown. Zink is part of the foundation’s Emerging Leaders Council, which is focused on young volunteers, and many of those in the group never knew Griffin personally. They are drawn to the foundation by the work it does.
That work inspires many of the Babson alumni involved with the foundation as well. At a typical foundation event, Zink says there may be 20 or so young alumni just from his class, and they are always bringing more people. “They go to one event. Maybe they know who Corey was, maybe they don’t, but immediately, it’s something they latch on to,” Zink says. “Once you see what the foundation does, and the impact you can have at a young age, you see a purpose to be a part of.”
Zink grew up playing hockey, and Griffin was often around. He was a family friend. “He was a bigger-than-life character in many ways,” Zink says. “He was 10 years older than me. He’d drive us to hockey camp. We were always looking up to him. We would go to his games and watch him. Corey was such a great guy.”
Rice is proud of the many Babson hockey alumni who have become involved in the foundation. “It’s amazing,” he says. “It really is.” Griffin’s death was a tragedy, but the foundation has served as a way for some good to come out of such pain and loss.
“Sometimes, the worst of things can present something incredible, and you don’t know it at the time,” Rice says. “I think this speaks to the love of Corey Griffin and the Griffin family and everyone dedicated to making a difference.”
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