Anders Lee teamed up with New York Rangers defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk on Saturday for a joint Kancer Jam event at the Renaissance Midtown Hotel to raise money and awareness for families affected by cancer. The crosstown rivals chose June 22, the first official day of summer, to enjoy a summer day at the Versa NYC rooftop filled with food, drink, prizes and friendly competition for a cause close to both players.
"You couldn't have asked for a better day," Lee said. "We had floated the idea around for a while now. I think the summer is a great time to do it. At the end of the day, you're fighting for pediatric cancer, kids and families in these positions. It's an easy thing to do and putting the time and effort into this and putting this together. It's been awesome.
Both Lee and Shattenkirk have hosted their own separate Kancer Jam events over the past three years during their respective hockey seasons. Lee, who was the first NHL player to stage a Kancer Jam event, was compelled to do so after viewing a video of then, 15-year-old cancer patient Fenov Pierre-Louis delivering a speech at a Kancer Jam event in Scotch Plains. Lee proceeded to develop a close relationship with Fenov who tragically passed away last year. The Islanders captain continues to honor Fenov's memory and carry out his legacy.
"It's really special," Lee said of putting on events in memory of Fenov. "Fenov taught me a lot. He taught a lot of people a lot of things. He always had wonderful things to say. One of them was, 'Anything you can do for a child with cancer would mean the world.' That's what we're doing here today. That's what we want to do. We want to honor him the best we can."
Both Lee and Shattenkirk aimed to raise $30k for Saturday's outing and met their goal with a final reported sum of $30,198. While the Islander and Ranger were coming together for a good cause, they still went head-to-head in some KanJam competition. Isles defenseman Thomas Hickey and Rangers blueliner Brendan Smith also made appearances and played alongside Lee and Shattenkirk. After a day of heated KanJam games, Shattenkirk ultimately won the tournament and claimed bragging rights over Lee.
"It's tough for me to say, but Shattenkirk ended up winning," Lee reluctantly admitted. "Shatty ended up coming up from behind a little bit. It's tough, I'm not happy about it. He has bragging rights, but you know what? It's going to a good cause."
New York affiliations aside, the day was a success working towards a larger goal. Lee and Shattenkirk utilized their shared platforms as professional hockey players to unite and continue creating awareness and funds for the fight against cancer and to assist those affected by the horrid disease.