New York Islanders Anders Lee Raises Money for Pediatric Cancer
By Ryan Connell and Victoria Conway
A frisbee, two plastic trash cans and pediatric cancer, all brought together through one thing, the Anders Lee Kancer Jam. On February 19th, following the conclusion of the New York Islanders game against the Minnesota Wild, Islanders forward Anders Lee hosted his 2nd annual Kancer Jam Kan Jam event. Kan Jam, the backyard lawn game designed around a frisbee and two plastic trash cans has gone from leisure time activity to a platform for humanitarianism. Lee thinks it is so special to see the Islanders community come together. “It really is so awesome–the Islanders community, the guys in the room and the organization being able to have the support that we have had and be able to put on an event like this, it’s a special night,” he said.
“It means so much to have somebody so high up there with fame, that cares about the little guy. He cares about the people that are less fortunate than him, and that means so much to me.”
Hockey players are often revered as some of the toughest athletes in the entire world. The toughest person Anders Lee knows doesn’t play hockey, but instead every day he fights for his life. Fenov Pierre-Louis, a 16-year old boy who was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma seven years ago, has been the inspiration for Lee to launch the Anders Lee Kancer Jam Kan Jam event. Pierre-Louis is grateful to see the power of the Islanders community at work. “It’s inspiring to me to see so many people come together for a noble cause,” he said. “It means so much to me as a cancer survivor to see all these people coming together, and raising money.”
The 16-year old also praised the Islanders forward for all he has done for him. “It means so much to have somebody so high up there with fame, that cares about the little guy. He cares about the people that are less fortunate than him, and that means so much to me,” he said.
Although he is still fighting cancer, Pierre-Louis doesn’t let that negativity bog him down. “I try to never let that take me down, regardless if I’m feeling bad, to have optimism, that’s what gets me through day to day,” he said.
Lee’s teammates have also taken notice of his impact on the community. “[It] says a lot about him. Obviously a great career so far, big part of our team, but a lot of off the ice work that people don’t get to see that guys do, and Anders is one of the biggest leaders of that,” said teammate Brock Nelson. “It’s special to see someone like that stick to his roots close to home.”
Even a young rookie in Mathew Barzal has taken notice of the impact his teammate’s event has had on the community. “A lot of respect for what he is doing here,” Barzal said. “It’s been a lot of fun and everything is going to charity, which is great.”
An interactive tournament format that partnered an Islander with a fan, merged the gap between professional athlete and loyal supporter. Both Anders Lee and Josh Bailey feel that this type of event is a perfect way to connect back with the fans.
“You are not just at a meet and greet saying ‘Hi and Goodbye’. You get to actually know the guys and the guys get to know the fans and create relationships, that’s what makes our Islanders community so special,” said Anders Lee.
“This is a perfect way to do it, everyone is just out here having a good time, and it is our way (as players) of putting time in with the fans and the people who donated their time and money to come out and support,” stated Josh Bailey.
One pairing of player and fan, saw young Islanders fan Brady, play with his favorite player Mathew Barzal. The 8-year-old was overjoyed at the chance to participate. “Oh I loved it,” Brady said. “It was amazing getting to not only go to the hockey game, but then stick around after and get to play with my favorite team, it was great.”
Cancer is a prevalent part of the world we know today. Fenov Pierre-Louis had a message on how people can help the fight against cancer. “It’s not always money,” he said. “Even just the efforts that you can do in helping to organize, or even just to volunteer to work events like these, that’s what really matters.”
An event that topped over $100,000 dollars in donations, saw lots of smiles, laughs, and positivity. Kan Jam, a simple leisure time activity often played in a backyard, has turned into a platform of charity, devoted to the betterment of trying to help those who fight the hardest fight of them all, the fight for their life.