Jamey Crimmins had the meaning of being charitable defined early for him.
“My mom used to tell me if you did a favor for somebody and more than two people knew about it, you did it for the wrong reason,” said Crimmins, who helped organize the inaugural Jam Kancer In The Kan event in 2014 to raise funds for families affected by cancer.
Anders Lee joined the effort in 2017 with his first Kancer Jam event. Now the Islanders captain is a finalist for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy given annually to the NHL player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution to his community.
The Flames’ Mikael Backlund and the Oilers’ Darnell Nurse are the other finalists. The winner as selected by a committee of NHL executives including commissioner Gary Bettman will be announced at the league’s Awards Show on Monday night in Nashville, Tennessee.
“I’m very honored to be nominated for this,” Lee told Newsday this week. “To be able to go is a really special thing. The awards thing never felt like something I’d be at. It’ll be good to go and experience that and just bring a little attention to the great charity that I’ve been fortunate enough to work with.”
Kan Jam is played by trying to throw a disc into a target and Lee held events in 2017, 2018 and 2019 after Islanders’ games at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. He’ll resume hosting the event on Sept. 16 at Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow.
“It was pandemic related,” Lee said of the hiatus. “Not being able to do it has been kind of a bummer on my end but that’s just how things have gone. I’m just excited to get the guys back together for it. Allow us to continue having such a great impact with some of these kids and their families.”
Crimmins said the first three Kancer In the Kan events — the first one in the backyard of fellow Scotch Plains, New Jersey residents Keith and Suzanne Goldberg — raised $130,000 but Lee’s involvement has helped get that total to more than $2 million.
But the heartbeat of Jam Kancer In The Kan continues to be the late Fenov Pierre-Louis, who was diagnosed with Stage 4 neuroblastoma at the age of nine. He passed away at 17 on July 18, 2018 but not before giving inspiring speeches at the Kancer In The Kan events and ultimately becoming close friends with Lee.
“Fenov legitimately changed everything,” Crimmins said. “If Anders wins the award, I’m certain Fenov would approve and be happy.”
Giving the eulogy at Pierre-Louis’ funeral, Lee said, “When I met Fenov, I became a better person, a better friend, a better son, a better husband. I had a purpose.”
“With our foundation and the things we do, so much of that has become honoring Fenov and kids like him that didn’t have the chance to fully live their dreams,” Lee said. “For us, he made such an impact on all of us. His wisdom for how youthful he was, was really incredible. It was humbling to be around him and very grounding.”
Crimmins said Lee also often gifts Islanders’ tickets to people affected by cancer and then meets with them after the game.
“It’s never, ‘I’m in the middle of my season, don’t bother me with this,’ it’s ‘OK, what do we need to do?” Crimmins said. “All hockey players are exceptional, they’re all good guys. But he’s way more than that. He’s incredibly humble. He is just a very selfless, caring guy.”