Prep Baseball Report

CO Friday Spotlight: Interview with Jeanne Atkinson

By Neil H. Devlin
Senior Writer
Denver Metro Area

The Prep Baseball Report Colorado Fall Prospect Tournament, to be played up and down the Front Range on Saturday and Sunday, will come with added meaning.

It will be known as the Atkinson Memorial Tournament, in honor of Dr. Kenneth Atkinson, a popular family practitioner in the southern metropolitan area who was killed while attempting to save two women from a gunman in early April.

Atkinson's wife, Jeanne, will attend one of the sites, at Cherokee Trail in Aurora, on Saturday along with grand children who will be asked to throw out the first pitch.

"It's wonderful," Jeanne Atkinson said. "Ken would be so honored and humbled by it. It's really a remarkable effort."

John Cackowski, State Director for PBR Colorado, is behind the switch. Atkinson was Cackowski's doctor and his wife, Natalie, had Atkinson as her family doctor since she was in grade school.

"(Dr. Atkinson) made such an impact on so many people," Cackowski said. "I guess the baseball world is giving back to him. He was my doctor and he was a baseball fan."

The former head coach at Highlands Ranch, Cackowski's ties to Atkinson and the personal irony surrounding his death are considerable. His father-in-law had visited Dr. Atkinson for a prescription refill the day he was killed. His wife's school, Homestead Elementary, was on lockdown after the shooting. And while celebrating Villanova's title in the NCAA Division I men's basketball title game -- Natalie had the Philadelphia-area Wildcats in a pool -- they were shocked later that night to view news reports of the murder.

"I was devastated,: Cackowski said. "I had just seen him the Friday before and I haven't been to a doctor since.

"It really hit me later. His funeral was amazing, overflowing into the street ... Dr. Atkinson was amazing."

Said Jeanne Atkinson: "We received stacks and stacks of cards, it really was pretty heartwarming for everyone to write and tell us what he meant in their lives. It gave him great satisfaction, those relationships."

Ken and Jeanne Atkinson also knew additional tragedy -- two of their youngest children, Taylor and Kendall, died from a rare blood disorder, Fanconi Anemia. which can lead to bone-marrow failure and cancer. So the parents started the KATA Foundation to support scientific and medical research in developing effective treatments and a cure.

According to Jeanne Atkinson, more than $1.5 million has been raised.

Saturday's and Sunday's games, for teams 18-and-under, 17-and-and-under, 16-and-under and 15-and-under from Windsor to Castle Rock, will include a significant donation to KATA.

"He was one of those guys that if you think you have it bad in life ... he started a foundation to try and turned a negative into a positive with the loss of his two kids," Cackowski said.

"And he was my friend."

There will be 60 teams competing in the tournament. All are assured of four games and will play with wooden bats.

Below is the schedule and locations of the tournament


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 18U  17U  16U 15U 
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