New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin formed a foundation in 1996 called the Jay Fund, inspired by a then player of his at Boston College, Jay McGillis, who developed leukemia. Coughlin was amazed and inspired by Jay and his family’s courage and faith during the time when the illness ran it’s crazy course. Jay eventually lost his battle with cancer.
The Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation focuses on the most important aspect of a child diagnosed with any form of cancer – the health of the child. The foundation provides emotion and financial support and assistance to the family, hoping to ease some of the burden and stress that comes hand in hand with such a devastating diagnosis, also hoping to improve the quality of life for the sick child.
Midtown Manhattan hot‐spot Cipriani hosted the eight annual NYC Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Champions for Children Gala. Tom Coughlin, along with his family, and notable members of his current NY Giants roster, gathered with what seemed like half of the city’s generous and giving population, for a formal fundraising dinner event raising awareness and money for children suffering cancer.
“It’s very warming to the heart,” Coughlin said. “I think people really grasp the passion of the Jay Fund, and our objectives and our goals are so consistent with what people really want. They want to help our families who have children with cancer. It’s just a terrible, terrible thing to be told you have a child who has cancer. And no matter what economic status you may have, there is no way you can afford all of the various treatments that go along with it.”
Coughlin continued, “The whole objective was to help, we helped in a very small way when we first got started. We have expanded due to my daughter, Kelly Coughlin Joyce, who is the executive director, but has done a tremendous job. What we have been able to do is to reach out to people and let them understand what the Jay Fund is all about. In doing so, the return has been tremendous.”
The Jay Fund has raised over $4 million since its inception.
Giant’s defensive lineman Chris Canty is no stranger to charity fundraisers, seeing as he has his own foundation, the Chris Canty Foundation, which also focuses on children, and their involvement in academics, athletics, and the community.
“The charity is dedicated to working with children and their families that are affected by this terrible disease. Just to be able to lend my name and lend my platform to an event like this, to a cause like this, I am happy to do it. There is a lot of overlap with Coach Coughlin’s charity work and with my foundation’s mission and our work, so it’s only fitting that I be here tonight and be able to support.”
Supporting their coach, and lending their valuable time before a big game this weekend (Giants take on the San Francisco 49ers Sunday at Candlestick Park), all the current players on the roster in attendance had one thing in common: their passion for this foundation and the importance of helping families in need that are dealing with the crisis of having a child sick with cancer.
Quarterback Eli Manning, as a fairly new father with a daughter about one and a half years old added, “I think anytime you become a parent, your eyes are open to what some of these families are going through, and then you think about your own child, if she were sick. And what you would want to do to help out. Some of the costs that these families are going through and just the tough circumstances they are dealing with, and that’s why this charity is so unique. And special. They are helping direct families. We have gotten to meet some of the families over the years that have been helped by the Jay Fund, so it makes it even more personal.”
The night continued with hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, followed by a swanky dinner reception, raising countless funds for the families in need.
Coughlin’s passion is contagious. His team is affected by it. His family is affected by it. I mean we might as well say his city is affected by it. As childhood cancer awareness grows, as well as growing fundraising efforts for the Jay Fund; maybe there will be an end in sight to this tragic sickness. Hopefully one day soon.