Matthew Barzal of the Islanders is celebrating a victory, one that he hopes will lead to a much bigger success: the defeat of childhood cancers.
Barzal joined his teammates in supporting captain Anders Lee’s charity, Jam Kancer in the Kan, in a fundraiser at Barclays Center.
“It shows how strong our family is here on the Islanders, not just in our locker room but in our community,” Lee said.
“For everyone to show their support and be here, take the time out of their day to help this cause is really special,” he said.
Members of the Islanders teamed up with fans and children fighting cancer in playing Kan Jam, a game jokingly called Garbage Can Frisbee, with each side trying to jam a flying disc in the can.
Lee and his wife Grace say they got involved with the charity after being moved by a video of a teenager, Fenov Pierre-Louis, fighting the disease.
“It was just at that moment when you realize there are so many kids battling cancer and have so much to offer. We just wanted to help them and help their families, be a part of it, and through that I’ve had this wonderful relationship with him,” he said.
“His perspective on everything and his postivitity, we knew he was a special human being and we were just in shock that someone like him was even suffering at all because you truly couldn’t tell,” Grace Lee said.
Fenov had stage 4 neuroblastoma, a childhood cancer. The Lees forged an unlikely friendship with him, inspired by his courageous fight against his illness. Anders Lee once called him “The toughest guy I know.” Sadly, Fenov died in July, at the age of 17.
“The time that we spent together, you know, it was a short couple of years, but I learned a lot from him, had a wonderful time with him, getting to know him and his family. It’s a time I’ll always remember and cherish, and you know, he’s with us here today,” he said.
The organization has raised over $120,000 for the cause this year, and the event is held every year in November, which is Hockey Fights Cancer month throughout the National Hockey League.