Anders Lee, Kevin Shattenkirk
ESNY Graphic, AP Photo

The first-annual Renny Jam was a success, bringing the community closer together while raising over $10,000 for the Marty Lyons Foundation.

Laughter, cheering and flying discs filled the air at the Versa rooftop where families and friends mingled with NHL stars for a charitable cause.

Anders Lee and Kevin Shattenkirk hosted Jam Kancer events in the past, but never one which bridged the on-ice rivalry off the ice.

When Lee started his mission in 2017, he had been moved by Jambassador Fenov Pierre-Louis’ speech from an event in 2015.

After reaching out to coordinate the first event in 2017, Fenov had been a mainstay, and one year after his passing that has not changed.

Decorating the side of the playing field was a banner in commemoration of Fenov with his quote “Even the smallest amount of help and sympathy you can provide to a child with cancer will mean the absolute world.”

As guests awaited Lee to arrive from his flight from Minnesota, Shattenkirk dove right in and began the day by meeting the contestants.

Like Lee, Shattenkirk had invited a special guest of his own.

Derek Zacchino is a defenseman for Bethpage who was diagnosed with a brain tumor in September 2018.

After undergoing successful surgery, Zacchino is in remission and was able to return to the ice in December of last year.

Shattenkirk recalled the experience of getting to know Derek and how far he’s come since his diagnosis:

“Derek is one of our biggest friends, we actually helped him out with USA hockey as well, we sent him and his father over to the World Championships to see some hockey in Slovokia and he met a bunch of players over there. He’s a kid who we want to help out, tough as nails. He had surgery 8 days before my event and still came and played in my event, he’s hockey tough, he’s one of our own.”

The impact felt from the experience of meeting Shattenkirk, Lee and a number of other players including Patrick Kane were lasting on both Derek and his father, Don.

“Derek started having health issues, and there’s a teacher in Derek’s school who contacted Anders and Kevin’s rep. Next thing we know, Kevin sent a video to Derek inviting him to a Ranger game and to have dinner before the game, and to meet Kevin after the game. At the same time, he invited us to the Shatty Jam on February 9.”

The impact from the NHL and the hockey community was not lost on Derek, who was personally invited by Anders and Kevin to go the US World Championship game in Slovakia this past year.

“It’s amazing. The guys you watch on TV and you look up to, they’re calling you, inviting you places, it’s amazing. It’s made me very grateful for everything, the hockey community and how people are.”

Among the guests were both Brendan Smith and Thomas Hickey, who came out in support of their teammates. Hickey was able to find time to attend despite his imminent wedding in just under two weeks, just part of the commitment to the Islanders he lives in day-to-day life.

The event has raised a total of $30,198 thus far with the losing team with either Shattenkirk or Lee pledging to donate $5,000.

Prizes included signed sticks and jerseys, signed baseballs donated by the New York Yankees, four tickets to an Islanders-Rangers game at the Barclays Center, and more.

Whether or not Lee’s future remains with the Islanders is one thing, but his charitable work off the ice is a testament to what he can bring to a team and community.

Grew up a diehard Islanders and Mets fan based out of Northern New Jersey. Concluding my Broadcast Communications degree at William Paterson University. WP Sportsdesk member, Stan Fischler correspondent, music buff and total Star Wars freak. Follow my social media handles to learn more. Matt Di Giacomo is a Staff Writer for the Islanders on Elite Sports NY. He encourages team discussion. Tweet him @mdigiacESNY and check out his reviews on YouTube.