The New York Islanders need a steady supply of coffee as they file into Toys "R' Us at dawn for their annual holiday toy shopping event, but not 10-year old Cale Chimera, who's amped up and ready to go.
And not just because he's got a toy store to himself.
"I'm kind of the early riser in the house, so 6 o clock is pretty normal," Chimera said, while his dad Jason, who gets up as a result, laughed and took a sip of coffee.
With Cale talking to the media, his seven-year-old sister, Ryan, cruises by in an orange power wheels jeep, with Dennis Seidenberg's daughter, Story, riding shotgun. The kids are taking over the Islanders toy shopping event, where the team picks out gifts for children in hospitals.
Cale is an expert in the 8-10 demographic, even if he's only guessing what the teenagers are into. He likes nerf guns and power wheels and he might even think older kids do too, considering that 27-year-old Anders Lee was riding around with him in a plastic jeep - a small miracle for a 6'3, 231 lbs. power forward.
"This year I wanted my parents to take us," Cale said. "It's cool that I got to pick out the toys for kids that I don't even know. It feels really cool."
Ryan and Story were an especially big help Thursday, as the Islanders players could use a hand shopping for young girls. When Scott Mayfield saw Molly Schalk - a lucky seven-year-old fan invited by News12 to come shopping - reach for an American Girl doll, he figured it was safe to grab about 20 more.
But the morning was always destined to finish with the kids being kids in a toy store. Cale Chimera scoped out some nerf guns, perhaps to take aim at Andrew Ladd, after the Isles forward snagged the last Marshmallow Gun.
When Jason Chimera told his daughter it was eventually time to go, she put the jeep in reverse and casually drifted backwards silently saying just five more minutes, dad.
"It was a great thing this morning," Chimera said. "They're at the age now where they are impressionable, so you try to make good impressions on them to see what good deeds do and what it means to give back. It was good for them to give back and have that good feeling about doing something good and not receiving anything."
To Cale and Ryan, Chimera is just dad, but to nine-year-old Ryan Schlak, a die-hard Isles fan invited by News12 to meet the team, shopping with the Islanders is a present that tops anything under a tree. Ryan's a huge John Tavares fan and got to help the Islanders captain and his fiancé Aryne do their holiday shopping.
"I like him a lot and he's really cool to hang out with," Ryan said. "And I feel great because we are helping out the kids in need that don't have as much as us."
The nine-year-old was star struck when he got to meet Tavares. He had a feeling this might happen and the nerves of meeting his hero almost made him call it off the night before, but what a mistake that would have been. Tavares first complimented Ryan's jersey - take a guess who was on the back - then they talked toys.
"It took him about two seconds and then he just warmed up and talked to us about what he wanted for Christmas and what the going toys were this year," Aryne said. "He was actually pretty good at picking out what we needed."
Like Cale, Ryan Schlak was also drawn to the nerf guns, hockey sticks and video games. In the end, full shopping carts of toys were packaged up and sent to hospitals, where the Islanders will hand deliver them to children in need of a holiday lift. But on Thursday, the kids pushing the carts got to have a little fun too.