Greenwich's Atkinson making wishes come true at Magaschoni

While growing up in Greenwich, Cam Atkinson kept wishing that one day he would lace up his skates, hit the ice and compete in the National Hockey League.

Through a grueling work regimen and dedication to the sport, Atkinson pushed himself every day until he finally reached his goal of making it in the NHL.

Although he just finished his rookie campaign with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Atkinson is still workng harder than ever, this time helping children get a chance at having their wishes granted.

Atkinson and the Marty Lyons Foundation have teamed up for a star-studded charity event Sunday, starting at 1 p.m. at Magaschoni, located at 115 Mason Street in Greenwich.

“This is going to be a great event,” Atkinson said. “We are going to have some great NHL players come and help out by participating. The Marty Lyons Foundation is such a great cause and it’s great that we teamed up together. Marty Lyons is going to be there and will bring a couple of kids from his foundation.”

Marty Lyons played 12 seasons for the New York Jets and was a key member in the 1981 “New York Sack Exchange,” as the Jets famously led the NFL in quarterback sacks. The Marty Lyons Foundation was established back in 1982 to fulfill wishes of children with a terminal or life-threatening illness.

“I coached Cam a long time ago in Fairfield Youth Hockey,” said Kevin Garvin, president of the North East Chapter of the Marty Lyons Foundation. “He was a great kid back then and it’s great that he wants to give back to the community now. When he called up and asked if he could do this for the foundation and for the kids, I couldn’t have been more thrilled. Hopefully this will show kids in youth hockey programs that it’s not just about hockey. It’s also about giving back to the community. It’s great that he’s doing this.”

While Atkinson organized the event, he’s getting plenty of support from his NHL friends.

Joining the Columbus winger will be Jonathan Quick, who won the Stanley Cup with the Los Angeles Kings and was named Conn Smythe Trophy winner and New York Islanders forward Matt Moulson.

Atkinson’s Boston College buddy and current New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider will be at the event, as will Tampa Bay Lightning star and Greenwich resident during the offseason, Marty St. Louis.

Greenwich natives Kevin Shattenkirk (St. Louis Blues) and Sean Backman (Bridgeport Sound Tigers) will also be in attendance, while Montreal Canadien and New Canaan native Max Pacioretty will be there to volunteer his time as well.

Nick Bonino, who played alongside Atkinson during his time at Avon Old Farms and is currently playing for the Anaheim Ducks, is scheduled to appear, as is Toronto Maple Leafs’ James van Riemsdyk.

Sunday’s event will have plenty of catered food and drinks, along with a silent auction. All the NHL players in attendance will bring auction items that are affiliated with their clubs. Atkinson said the NHL donated sweaters to put up for auction, as well as autographed hats and sticks.

For example, there will be signed sweaters from Atkinson, as well as Stanley Cup champions Sidney Crosby, Dustin Brown, Quick and St. Louis. The door prize will be an NHL sweater that will be signed by all the stars at the charity event.

Scout, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers’ mascot, will also be on hand to keep the crowd entertained throughout the event. In addition, the Sound Tigers will be bringing its inflatable hockey shooting range, so both kids and adults can shoot pucks with their favorite NHL player.

“It’s been a whirlwind the past few weeks planning things out,” Atkinson said. “I’ve had this in the back of my mind for a long time now. Ryan Shannon has a great event that he does every summer. I look at that and kind of want to do my own thing. I think teaming with the Marty Lyons Foundation will be perfect and let’s hope there will be a great turnout.”

While getting his first charity event off the ground has been stressful for Atkinson, his family has been there, helping out every step of the way. Atkinson’s proud mother, Ellen Atkinson, is the owner of Magaschoni in Greenwich and is helping out by hosting the event in her store.

“Cam is so excited about giving back and finding an organization that is so close to his heart,” Ellen Atkinson said. “This is Cam’s first chance at giving back and he’s so excited. I’m excited that I can do it through my store. Hopefully people will come by and shop. We’re having catered food and auction items and 100% of those go back to the foundation.”

Ellen Atkinson said that Magaschoni, which sells mostly cashmere-based, high-end clothing that mixes urban elegance with vintage sophistication for both women and men, will give 10% of its sales for the day to the Marty Lyons Foundation.

“It’s a thrill to do this with Cam,” Ellen Atkinson said. “To see that Cam wants to give back, and that he’s got such good buddies that are successful and will be here to help draw people to this event, is special. I don’t know how many people to expect here. There could be 100 or there could be 1,000. But to see all the excitement, to be able to work with my son and to have him have a successful event, means so much to me.”

“Family is huge and it’s the most important thing in my life,” Cam Atkinson said. “They have helped me out and I’ve helped them out. They’ve always given back, whether it has been giving away Christmas presents in the winter time or by doing something else. They do stuff like that and it kind of feeds off all my brothers and myself. We are hosting it at her store and it’s a really nice venue that has open space to have some activities. Any time I could give back, and do it with my family, is really important. For kids that have only one or two wishes in their life, any time you can help kids out, that’s one of the most important things people could do.”

When Atkinson found the Marty Lyons Foundation, he knew that it would be a perfect fit. Not only does Atkinson enjoy helping children, but the foundation was founded by a professional athlete and 95 cents to the dollar goes back to the children who have life-threatening illnesses or are terminally ill.

The Marty Lyons Foundation grants children with a terminal or life-threatening illness a wish. However, what makes the foundation unique is that they grant second wishes for kids who relapse.

“We are hoping that the funds can allow us to grant more second wishes,” Garvin said. “We have a couple of kids on the wait list because we just couldn’t get the funding, but with this, we are hoping we can do more wishes for the kids. It is events like this that enable us continue to gives wishes for the kids.”

Atkinson said that he would like to have this charity event become an annual tradition for the Greenwich community.

“It’s going to be a great event and hopefully we will have a great turnout,” Cam Atkinson said. “This is my first event that I am organizing, so I am hopeful that it’s successful and that we have plenty more we can do each summer.”

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