On Saturday, February 9, Kevin Shattenkirk and many of his New York Rangers teammates came together for his second annual Kancer Jam presented by Mustang Harry’s. At the House of Sports in Ardsley, where the event was held, it was a fun celebration that got the Rangers and some dedicated fans together to recognize the efforts of raising funds for children affected by cancer.
The event was a rousing success. Prior to the tournament, Jam Kancer in the Kan Foundation founder Jamey Crimmins addressed the crowd.
“This is the highest grossing Kancer Jam we have ever had.” Shatty Jam II raised over $140,000 for the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore and The Garden Of Dreams Foundation. The success of this year’s fundraising exceeded Shattenkirk’s expectations.
In an interview with Blueshirt Banter, Shattenkirk talked about the growth of the event. “I think last year it was kind of dipping our toes in the water seeing how do we promote the event? How do we raise money and get this thing to really grow and really just get the word out?
“This year we’ve seen that success of what we setup last year with about $50,000 more than we raised last year,” Shattenkirk continued. “The attendance has grown, we are able to use a bigger facility (House of Sports), we have some great sponsors with Mustang Harry’s and now the Renaissance Hotel from Midtown has jumped in. A lot of people from the Rangers community are coming together and bonding and trying to to grow this thing and help raise as much money as possible.”
While the Shatty Jam certainly grew from last year’s inaugural event, Jam Kancer in the Kan has also come a long way since its inception. The first Jam Kancer in the Kan event took place in a backyard in New Jersey in 2014. From there, it picked up steam after a special moment in 2016 — a moment that was pictured in banners at this year’s Kancer Jam. Fenov Pierre-Louis brought the audience to tears with an inspiring story from the perspective of someone who had been battling cancer for the majority of their life.
The impact of Fenov’s speech was so powerful that after seeing it, Anders Lee of the New York Islanders contacted Crimmins saying he wanted to hold an event. Lee mentioned the speech in an article written for The Players’ Tribune in March of 2017.
Lee’s Kancer Jam inspired Shattenkirk, which then inspired J.T. Miller and Ryan McDonagh to hold a similar event in Tampa Bay. Zach Bogosian of the Buffalo Sabres has also gotten involved in the unique fundraising event.
Pierre-Louis sadly lost his battle with stage 4 neuroblastoma on July 18, 2018 at the age of 17. But stories like Pierre-Louis’ inspire Crimmins and everyone involved with Jam Kancer in the Kan events, and that’s why they make it a priority to meet with as many patients as possible.
Last February, Shattenkirk visited “CHAM” (the Children’s Hospital at Monterfiore) and brought Chris Kreider with him. They went and visited with a number of patients and in one of the rooms he noticed pictures and signs that said “Happy Birthday.” After leaving the room he told Crimmins that they needed to make sure the girl they just visited with received flowers on her birthday. When Shattenkirk found out that flowers could not be delivered to the hospital, he got in contact with the child life specialist at CHAM.
A child life specialist, as described by Crimmins, is the “person at every hospital who has the task of trying to teach a shell-shocked family what it is like to live with cancer, and they are the most amazing people on the planet.” This particular specialist told Kevin what the young patient liked, and on her birthday she received some gifts from Shattenkirk. The child’s mother later told Crimmins that the gesture made her day, and she went from being a girl who was miserable in her fight with cancer to a girl who had her day made on her birthday. Crimmins later added, “Kevin did that, but he won’t ever tell you that, so I am.”
Events like this are special for Shattenkirk because from a young age his parents instilled in him the importance of giving back. Now that he’s living in New York, playing with the Rangers, he has the opportunity to be involved in the communities in which he grew up.
The Kancer Jam tournament featured two waves of about 16 teams each facing off in a head-to-head format with the top teams from each wave advancing to an elite eight, a final four, and a subsequent championship showdown.
Each team in attendance raised at least $3,000 through their various fundraising campaigns with the top earners being able to select their Ranger first. Rangers who teamed up with fundraising fans included Pavel Buchnevich, Tony DeAngelo, Jesper Fast, Alexandar Georgiev, Kevin Hayes, Brett Howden, Kreider, Vinni Lettieri, Adam McQuaid, Vladislav Namestnikov, Cristoval Nieves, Neal Pionk, Shattenkirk, Brady Skjei, Ryan Strome, Jimmy Vesey and Mika Zibanejad.
The majority of the players who attended have their own connection to being impacted by cancer whether it be Kevin Hayes’ parents, Chris Kreider’s aunt, uncle and grandparents, or Tony DeAngelo’s grandfather. As so many of us know all too well, cancer touches far too many lives.
The players interacted a great deal with the many fans in attendance and there was certainly some competitive fire burning. One of the more intense match-ups was between Buchnevich and Zibanejad, who both took pride in celebrating after picking up points or attempting to distract the other when it was time to dish their Frisbee. There were also some hi-jinks along the way too, as Chris Kreider would jokingly decide to stretch when a competitor tried to throw their Frisbee, just happening to get in the way at the last minute, or throw his hat like an NFL referee throwing a penalty flag.
The winners of the event were Brady Skjei, nine-year-old Johnny Gallagher, and his father Kevin. They defeated Boo Nieves in the final, who advanced after besting Zibanejad. Skjei and the Gallaghers defeated Adam McQuaid in the final four.
The Jam Kancer In The Kan Foundation is a grassroots fundraising platform that raises funds for families affected by kancer by staging KanJam-related Kancer Jam events. Since its inception in 2014, it has raised more than $1,050,000.
To learn more, visit www.jamkancerinthekan.com.