For the second consecutive season, Cam Atkinson is the Columbus Blue Jackets’ nominee for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy, which is presented annually “to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community.” It’s easy to see why Atkinson was chosen again for the nomination. His community resume is off the charts.
All of Atkinson’s Community Accomplishments
Atkinson has long been involved with many different community initiatives. This season he took that commitment to another level thanks in large part to the Covid-19 pandemic. Take a look at all of the things he is doing in the community.
- Atkinson earned the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation Community MVP Award in 2020-21. This was the first time he’s won this honor.
- Atkinson consistently makes visits to both Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the Mid-Ohio Food Collective.
- Prior to the start of the season, Atkinson partnered with a local company to organize a toy drive and food delivery for patients and frontline workers at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in December.
- Atkinson hosts meet-and-greets at Nationwide Arena with kids and families in need of a distraction from challenging circumstances.
- Atkinson continues diligent work on the Force Network Fund, which has to date donated over $315,000 to various military and first responders’ charitable organizations. Each year, the fund hand selects 13 organizations to benefit.
- In addition, Atkinson organized a virtual Force Network Fund 5K race in June 2020 in order to help raise funds for the purchase of a rapid-response Covid-19 testing device. Thanks to 656 participants in the virtual race, they were able to raise $40,313 to benefit the local OhioHealth Foundation which helped towards the purchase of the device.
- Atkinson helped develop and open the Battery Hockey Academy, a youth hockey development initiative in Central Ohio. They hosted “Cam’s Carnival” during the summer of 2019 where they raised $10,000 to benefit Operation Military Kids of Ohio and the Fallen 15.
- Atkinson and his wife Natalie adopted four local families who had loved ones preparing to leave for development over the holidays, purchasing gifts for the families, recording personal messages and having them delivered to the families by USO Ohio.
- During the Blue Jackets’ Military Appreciation Night, presented by Elk + Elk, in April 2021, Atkinson presented the USO Ohio with a check for $5,013 to help support sending military kids to summer camp through Operation Military Kids.
- Atkinson used his social media platforms to speak up about Black Lives Matter and made monetary donations to both NAACP Chapter of Columbus and The Conscious Kid Anti-Racist Children’s Book Education Fund in the summer of 2020.
- Atkinson stepped up in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic and helped local businesses in the Arena District who were devastated by the pandemic with donations to help keep them in business. Included in that is the R-Bar, a place that is close to the heart of Blue Jackets’ fans. He used Cameo to make personalized videos with those funds going to the R-Bar so they could stay open.
Atkinson Reflects on the Nomination
As you can see, Atkinson has become a community champion in Columbus for all his efforts. He had a chance to chat with us about what this nomination means to him.
“I was excited,” Atkinson said. “Any time you can get nominated for any award it’s a huge accomplishment. I certainly don’t do things to give to the community and giving back to receive any award or nomination. But to be recognized I think it’s special. It’s goes to show that I’m doing something important in this world.”
Atkinson is definitely investing in the important things of this world. He especially takes time investing in families especially children who have to deal with parents being deployed. That was a big part in starting the Force Network Fund. He reflected on this part of his work and then the decision to help the R-Bar.
“It’s something that hits home. We’ve been doing that for about eight years now and raised a lot of money for great causes that make a huge impact on families’ lives and children that maybe their mom or dad are deployed. Maybe they lost a parent (really) anything under the sun. My two cousins are in the military as well. I think giving back is the most important thing that you can do in this world especially if you have the platform where people listen to you to some extent.”
“And then once Covid hit, it was a no-brainer to find something that hit home in Columbus. Not to mention R-Bar. I’ve been there once or twice. That bar specifically is the home of the fifth line where fans watch us through bad times and great times. To see the struggle they (R-Bar) was going through, it was a no-brainer to raise some money to give back to them any way we could so they could keep their lights on and keep the bar open so people can enjoy watching whatever game was on at that time…any time you can make a change in someone’s life for the better, that’s the best feeling in the world.”
If Atkinson Wins
The winner of the King Clancy Memorial Trophy will receive a $25,000 donation to a charity of their choice. Two runner’s up will each get $5,000 to give to a charity of choice. The winner will be announced at a date to be determined.
Last season, Minnesota’s Matt Dumba won the King Clancy Memorial Trophy. In 2016-17, Atkinson’s teammate Nick Foligno won the award. Foligno and his wife Janelle donated $1 million to children’s hospitals in both Columbus and Boston. Atkinson admitted he’s learned a lot from Foligno about the importance of giving back and community. He even took it to social media to show his appreciation.
The important part of all this is not the who is chosen as the winner. It’s everyone who gets to benefit from the work being done not just by Atkinson, but by everyone who was nominated. You can see a full list of this season’s nominee’s here.
Especially given the way the last year has gone, seeing what these players are doing for their communities is wonderful to see. For Atkinson, it’s the best feeling in the world giving back to Columbus. The city and the team certainly appreciate his efforts. His second consecutive nomination confirms that and then some.
I am a fully credentialed writer who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Monsters and Erie Otters as well as the Ontario Hockey League and NHL Draft. The 2021-22 season will mark eight seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager.