NEW YORK -- Anders Lee had seen many of his teammates past and present start their own charities to benefit causes and decided it was his turn.
That's why the New York Islanders forward held the Anders Lee Kancer Jam, which raised over $91,000 for pediatric cancer at Barclays Center on Saturday, following the Islanders' 3-2 overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Lee decided to do something different, using the popular game Kan Jam involving two teams of two throwing or tapping a Frisbee into a can to accumulate points, and the help of his teammates to raise money. Hundreds of people showed up and donated to the event that was held on the practice court of the NBA's Brooklyn Nets who also play at Barclays Center.
"It shows how good of a community we have and the relationship we have with the fans," Lee said. "It also speaks volumes to the guys in the locker room. This is completely voluntary by [my teammates] and it's awesome. You always walk away from these events feeling so much better about giving your time. We are all just regular guys who play hockey for a living."
Lee previously struck a friendship with Fenov Pierre-Louis, a 16-year-old who was diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma at 9 years old, even giving him a tour of the Islanders locker room in January.
"Everybody coming out here to support this great cause," Pierre-Louis said. "It's just an amazing event. Coming from a small town, I would never imagine myself in these shoes. Seeing all these people come out not only to support people like me, but the cause of eradicating cancer."
Lee wasn't sure what to expect in the first year of the event but said it turned out to be beyond his expectations.
"With how much money we raised and the turnout, you can't ask for anything more for sure," he said. "You have that image in your head of what it's going to be like but then when you come here on the day and see it come to fruition, it's pretty exciting."
Lee, who has NHL career highs in goals (26) and points (42) this season, made sure to practice Kan Jam over the past few weeks.
"I brought a couple of sets up to the weight room so when we had a few extra minutes, we'd play," he said. "Some guys practiced and some guys clearly didn't do anything at all."
The Islanders team of Lee and Brock Nelson lost to John Tavares and Scott Mayfield in the semifinals. Tavares and Mayfield then lost an exciting double overtime match to Islanders fans, cousins and donors Keith Lavitt and Josh Rosenberg in the final. A crowd gathered to watch the final game, called by Islanders television play-by-play announcer Brendan Burke.
"Both of us have ties unfortunately to cancer," Rosenberg said of he and his cousin. "My mother and father, my uncle, sister-in-law. So it's something that's great for us to be a part of but it's also great to see all the teammates out here for the Islanders that they would support Anders and the organization."
Almost all of the Islanders players were present and participating in the event.
"As an athlete, sometimes you under estimate the kind of power you have to affect change positively," forward Cal Clutterbuck said. "The hardest thing is getting out here and starting it. So for [Anders] to be able to do this here today and get this off the ground, it's good for him."