Blue Jacketsâ€™ Derek MacKenzie builds track record of giving back
SEP 03, 2013 10:00a ET
Columbus Blue Jackets training camp begins September 12th but, before heading to work on the ice, Blue Jackets Forward Derek MacKenzie had to spend some time in school.
Last Friday, MacKenzie was the keynote speaker at the kick-off of the Hastings Outreach Program (HOP) at Hastings Middle School in Upper Arlington. Hastings Principal Robb Gonda explained the program.
“Five years ago we were looking for an activity to engage our students at the beginning of the year in community service,” said Gonda. “The idea came up to take all our kids out into the community.”
Each grade level spends the entire day giving their time to a specific cause after hearing from a speaker who was specifically chosen based on his or her work with charitable causes. For Gonda, MacKenzie was a no-brainer.
“We’re very fortunate to have Derek and his message based on his work with pediatric cancer,” Gonda said.
MacKenzie has a tradition of focusing on community service that goes back to his days in youth hockey in Canada. MacKenzie used his time-off in the summers to find ways to get involved in his local community.
Now, as a professional athlete, MacKenzie continues to make time to give back. He participates in the Blue Jackets annual Blue Jacket Black Tie Style Show, which raises money for pediatric cancer, and organizes visits to Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus throughout the year.
For the past three years, in addition to his work with the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation, Derek has hosted a golf tournament in his hometown of Sudbury, Ontario, that benefits the pediatric oncology unit of the local hospital.
It was his time in Columbus that helped spark his choice of beneficiaries.
“When it came time to select a charity, it was pretty easy. After working with the Foundation here and Hats for Heroes (one of the Blue Jackets Foundation’s annual fundraisers to raise money for pediatric cancer) it led me to look to give to this local hospital and pediatric patients,” said MacKenzie.
“The money we raise at that tournament goes directly to helping making the lives of the families and children affected easier. We help with the little things – like parking when the family goes to the hospital in Toronto which is four hours away,” said MacKenzie. “Our work is tangible and people see it. That’s what I love about it.”
As a father, MacKenzie also hopes to instill service-oriented behavior in his children.
“I’m looking forward to my 4 year-old daughter getting a little older so she can participate,” he said. “She’ll be a help when visiting younger kids and it’s nice for her to relate to some of the different things that kids go through.”
With hockey season fast approaching, MacKenzie plans to continue to fit community service into his schedule.
“I think we’re blessed to get to visit some of these kids – when things get tough we need to remember there are kids that look up to us,” he said.“Taking time to see them is good for them and good for us – it’s humbling and motivating.”
Another way MacKenzie will give back is through the return of his distinctive mustache as part of “Movember” – an annual grassroots campaign that raises money and awareness for men’s health issues.
“The mustache will absolutely be back. It’s gone so well,” said MacKenzie. “One of the fans had a quote and called (my mustache) the ‘FuMacChu’. I think we’re gonna stick with that one.”
Blue Jackets tickets for the 2013-14 season are currently available for purchase. Information on all ticketing options can be obtained by calling (800) NHL‐COLS or by visiting BlueJackets.com.
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