The American Hockey League announced Thursday that Chicago Wolves forward Scooter Vaughan has been selected as the winner of the Yanick Dupre Memorial Award as the 2017-18 IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year.
This award has been presented annually since 1998 to an AHL player for his outstanding contributions to his local community and charitable organizations. The Yanick Dupre Memorial Award winner is selected by the AHL and representatives from IOA and American Specialty from among 30 individual team Man of the Year honorees.
Vaughan, a 29-year-old Placentia, California, native in his third season with the Wolves, combines his effortless charm, sharp business mind and keen sense of empathy to serve as a force for good throughout the Chicago area.
“He just has this infectious personality and he is so authentic with everyone he meets,” said Wolves senior vice president of operations Courtney Mahoney. “Everything about him resonates with our fans. The way he plays on the ice — his enthusiasm and what he gives on every shift — is exactly how he is with every endeavor he does with our organization. He personifies how the Wolves strive to give back to our community.”
“Everything about him resonates with our fans. The way he plays on the ice — his enthusiasm and what he gives on every shift — is exactly how he is with every endeavor he does with our organization. He personifies how the Wolves strive to give back to our community.”
“I’m really proud of the Wolves and the reaction we’ve gotten from people when we’ve done community events,” Vaughan said. “I have met some awesome people along the way. Hopefully we’ve helped change some lives and we’ve made some people happy.”
When it comes to helping others, it’s almost absurd how willing Vaughan is to volunteer his time and energy. The same scenario plays out each time a teammate or a front office employee approaches him with a request or an idea.
“Scooter…” the person begins.
Before the person can get in another word, Vaughan cuts the conversation short.
“I’m in!” he declares.
When Vaughan’s in, that means everyone who attends a public Wolves function gets his rapt attention. As the team’s most popular player, his presence and wit and fundraising skills has enabled Chicago Wolves Charities to increase its ability to raise money for the many Chicago-based charities it supports.
When Vaughan’s in, that means anyone who needs a quiet moment of encouragement or an friendly ear to listen earns some private time with him. There’s a young man named Blake Burriss who has been a consistent presence at Wolves games for the last two seasons and he has become friends with Vaughan. Blake suffers from ependymoma, which is a tumor that affects the central nervous system. When Blake doesn’t come around for a little while, Vaughan takes the initiative to send Blake videos encouraging him to hang in there. His efforts inspired his mother, Michelle, to send a letter to the Wolves front office:
“I would like to express what Scooter Vaughan is to our family. When you meet Scooter, he is all smiles and always glad to see you. My son has talked with Scooter several times and he looks up to Scooter…he is an inspiration and a role model. Recently we went early to the game to get a Scooter bobblehead and it was then that we realized we weren’t the only Scooter fans. The line was around the building an hour before the game.”
When Vaughan’s in, that means his philanthropy extends to his own initiatives. The University of Michigan graduate paired his business sense and large network of friends with his desire to help young people and founded Kids For Camps. The new charity aims to build brighter futures for lower-income youth by giving them a chance to attend sports or arts camps on scholarship.
“Right now, we’re trying to get the message out that it’s available, ” Vaughan said. “We’re eager for kids or their parents to apply for scholarships at KidsForCamps.com.”
AHL president and CEO David Andrews will present Vaughan with the Yanick Dupre Memorial Award prior to Saturday’s 7 p.m. game against the Rockford IceHogs at Allstate Arena. Dupre, who played four seasons for the AHL’s Hershey Bears, passed away in 1997 at the age of 24 following a 16-month battle with leukemia.
Vaughan also will be honored Saturday with the Dan Snyder Man of the Year Award, which goes to the Wolves player who demonstrates the most outstanding dedication to Chicago-area community service.