Columbus Blue Jackets’ star forward Cam Atkinson has done a lot of amazing work both on and off the ice in his time with the team. Most notably, the work he and his team do with the Force Network Fund has made a huge difference in the lives of military personnel and first responders.
To date, the Fund has donated almost $400,000 to various charitable organizations. The idea of the Fund is to give back to those that serve this country. They are the true heroes among us.
The Force Network Fund
According to their website, the Force Network Fund is a patriotic tribute to the spirit of those who serve and protect our nation on a daily basis. Force Network Fund is an all-volunteer, non-profit, tax-exempt charitable organization. Donations can be self-directed by donor or distributed by Force Network Fund.
The Fund was started by both Atkinson and his uncle around six years ago. They wanted to give back to something that in his words “hits home.” First responders hits home for the Atkinson’s. Cam’s two youngest brothers are both volunteer fire fighters. Other members of his family are in the military with one of them in the process of being deployed. Atkinson is using his platform as an NHL player in the best way he can.
Of late, they have started to focus their efforts on local Columbus charities. This has helped Atkinson and his team come up with an amazing idea to not only get you involved but also help out the heroes of Central Ohio. And yes, you are all invited to this great event.
A Virtual 5K!
One might wonder how is there an event given the current state of things in the world? Don’t worry. You would be participating in this event virtually with Atkinson and many others. Coming June 4-June 7, you are invited to partake in a Virtual 5K that will help various hospitals, doctors and nurses in Central Ohio get important PPE equipment on the front lines. 100% of all funds raised will go directly to this important cause. Let Atkinson fill you in on the opportunity. (PS. Check out the beard!)
As well, if it turns out in a month or two that there is plenty of equipment available, then they will focus on something else of greater need within Central Ohio. We asked Atkinson how he came up with this idea of a virtual 5K.
“One of my partners who is associated with the Force Network Fund saw that EndoMonkey tweeted out about a virtual run the past,” Atkinson said. “She just thought it would be a great idea strictly because anyone can do it anywhere you want in the world and it’s not expensive. It’s a way for everyone to get out and do something active and realize that you’re giving back to a great cause.”
And if you don’t like the thought of a running a 5K for any reason, you’re in luck! This virtual 5K can be completed in a variety of ways. You can run it. You can jog it. You can walk it. You can even roller blade it. It can be done on your own time during that June time frame anywhere you want. But yes, you need to practice social distancing while you do this.
In fact, Atkinson wants to see your photos of you or your friends in action. There will be a hashtag to use for this. It is #FNF5K. It stands for Force Network Fund 5K. You’ll use that hashtag to show your support of this cause while hopefully having a fun time. Atkinson said that some of his Blue Jackets’ teammates have signed up and will be a part of this 5K. Captain Nick Foligno will be one of them.
Now you’re interested, right? You want to run in a virtual 5K with an NHL player. How do you sign up? It’s easy. Click on this link to go to the signup page. The cost is $35 per person and $15 per child with a $5 shipping fee. So for $40 per person total or $20 per child total, you will be officially signed up for the 5K and you will receive some swag in the process.
According to Atkinson, all who sign up for the event will get a T-Shirt and a Military Challenge Style Coin to prove your involvement. Make sure you wear those shirts proudly during your 5K. While details are still being worked out, Atkinson admitted that they are thinking of ways to have other prizes involved such as autographed memorabilia and other things for those who are actively involved with this.
As of this writing, there has been a great reception to this idea. Atkinson said that in just donations alone, they’ve raised almost $7,000. Even if you just want to donate and don’t want to race, that’s perfectly fine too. As mentioned earlier, all funds raised go directly to the cause. You just need to click the donate button on the signup page. Registration for the virtual 5K does close on the night of May 31.
As we all know, these times have been crazy and uncertain. But it’s ideas like this that help bring people together in a way we wouldn’t have thought about before. Atkinson is very thankful for the opportunity to be a Blue Jacket and to give back to his community. They can’t wait to get back out on the ice. He has a message for the Blue Jackets’ faithful while we wait for the season to resume.
“They (the fans) are the reason that we are able to play,” Atkinson said. “I appreciate their support over the last nine years that I’ve been here. They’re the best fans in the league for a reason. When it happens (the season resuming), we know that they’ll be there cheering us on like they always have.”
We might not have games to go to at this point, but Atkinson and the Blue Jackets are making the most of a unique opportunity to get everyone involved. If you have any additional questions about this race, there is a link for questions at the bottom of the signup page. They’ll be more than happy to answer any questions or concerns you have.
Get them running shoes ready. Those four days in June are sure to be an amazing time all while helping our heroes who work the front lines everyday for our benefit. They are the reason events like this happen. And for that, we thank them for their dedicated service and selflessness.
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.