2014: A Year of Momentum for the Jay Fund

2014 was a tremendous year for the Jay Fund; it was a time of growth, excitement and a profound statement regarding our continuing mission to #BeThere for families tackling childhood cancer.

We began the year in a “super” way with the “Big Game Time Out”, a special series of events set up for some NY/NJ families during Super Bowl Week in New York City.  The events proved to be exciting times for parents and children who needed a “time out” from issues and obstacles they face every day.  We got a lot of great pictures of everything going, too.

January 31st marked the first day of a new Jay Fund tradition: #JayDay!  On the 31st day of every 31-day month, we pause to celebrate the inspiration of the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund, Jay McGillis.  We take time to celebrate aspects of Jay’s character that made him so special, and we also showcase the way people and organizations exemplify those characteristics.

In February, we got sweet on our Jay Fund families with Valentine’s Day parties in Jacksonville and NY/NJ.  Like all of our special events, the families had a chance to enjoy themselves and the kids got to be kids without feeling “different”.  Here are some pics from Facebook.

In March, we had ourselves a “Milestone Celebration”: it was the 10th Anniversary of the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Wine Tasting Gala!  With over 800 people in attendance at the Wells Fargo Center in downtown Jacksonville, we celebrated the amazing commitment and generosity of the First Coast and most importantly, we celebrated the incredible milestones reached by our beloved Jay Fund children and families.

During the first few months of 2014, we introduced the Impact Player Program – a way for businesses, organizations and individuals to #BeThere for families tackling childhood cancer by fundraising for the Jay Fund.  Throughout the year, almost 50 different groups to came together, worked hard and gave over $170,000 to the Jay Fund!  We’re excited about 2015, too – be watching for updates on a bigger and better program with even more ways for you to #BeThere.

“Who wants some cake?”  If it’s a cake from Carlo’s Bakery, home of the hit TV series “Cake Boss”, the better question is “Who DOESN’T want some cake?”  After Buddy and the gang built the Jay Fund an incredible cake last year (and featured us on the TV show), we were able to go back to Hoboken, NJ with some Jay Fund families to build some cakes of our own!  It was an amazing time, made complete with a visit from Mauro, one of the stars of the show.  It was quite a yummy experience!

May is always special to us, because it’s always Celebrity Golf Classic time.  This year was astounding; we welcomed hundreds of celebrity and local guests to TPC Sawgrass, home of The Players Championship, for a dinner/auction and golf tournament which raised over $500,000 for First Coast families.  The 19th Annual Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Celebrity Golf Classic was a spectacular experience, and we have the photos to prove it.

But May isn’t just about golf; Coach Coughlin and the NY Giants hosted the annual NY Giants Tour and Sundae Blitz, where NY/NJ Jay Fund families have the once-in-a-lifetime experience of spending time with the Giants…and munching on some ice cream with them, too!  We’ve got lots of pictures on Facebook, and the Giants have a wonderful video package dedicated to the event you can watch anytime.

Over the summer, we worked hard to meet the increasing needs of families tackling childhood cancer by supplying financial assistance, getting involved with Camp Boggy Creek and Camp Happy Times, and sending some families to enjoy Giants’ training camp.  Kathy Devine, the Jay Fund’s Financial Coach, hosted seminars and support groups for families dealing with the ever-present financial struggles that often accompany a childhood cancer diagnosis.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and for the first time, the Jay Fund joined the fight to call the public’s attention to the impact of childhood cancer through the #GoGold Initiative.  For the entire month, we hosted and participated in events to create and enhance awareness, as well as provide opportunities for people to #BeThere for families in the Jacksonville and NY/NJ metro areas.  14 events took place in 28 days, the Jay Fund’s story and mission was presented to well over 100,000 people and over $20,000 was raised.  For all the details, check out the recap we shared about the #GoGold Initiative.

But September wasn’t just about going gold – we proudly introduced our newest staff member: Bob VanLangen, our NY/NJ Financial Coach.  With Bob on board, we can now offer our unique financial planning and support service to the NY/NJ Jay Fund families we love so much.

After an amazing month like September, it made sense to enjoy a little down time.  This, however, is Tom Coughlin’s Jay Fund, and we share his desire to work hard and work toward our goals.  To that end, we quickly turned our attention to the 10th annual Champions for Children Gala at Cipriani 42nd St. in New York City.  It was our biggest and best Gala yet; over 650 guests enjoyed a wonderful dinner and auction with dozens of NY Giants’ players, as well as a national sports celebrities and words from our honorees, Martin Eltrich III and Alfred Kelly Jr.  The guest list was highlighted by the entire McGillis family, and the evening reached a powerful climax when Coach Coughlin announced that the Jay Fund was creating a $10 million endowment initiative to ensure that the Jay Fund could always #BeThere for families tackling childhood cancer in the NY/NJ metro area.  And after all the bids and gifts were counted, the 10th Annual Champions for Children Gala raised a record $1.4 million.

November proved to be a big surprise; we love Thanksgiving, and we always have a lot to be thankful for, but this year, we were blown away!  We partnered with 1010XL/92.5FM once again this year for the 2014 Jay Fund Radiothon.  Typically held in October, we weren’t sure how the change on the calendar would the outcome of this year’s event.  Jacksonville supporters did not disappoint, and amazingly, they raised almost $74,000, surpassing last year’s record by nearly $20,000!

And finally, as the rest of the world readied itself for holiday festivities, we had a few things to share.  On December 6th, we threw the biggest Jay Fund Holiday Party the Jacksonville area had ever seen – over 400 people packed into the WJCT studios to share some time with Santa and the characters from Frozen!  That day, the Sunshine State was covered in ice and snow…and the kids LOVED it!  On December 9th, we brought the party to NY/NJ, having a great time with families and our friends from The Valerie Fund.  And if that wasn’t enough for the 9th, the Jay Fund announced that we would be disbursing over $500,000 to our NY/NJ partner agencies to better serve and help families tackling childhood cancer within the metro area.

But December didn’t end there – our Jacksonville volunteers got together and, thanks to the Jaguars Foundation, they delivered holiday dinners to Jay Fund families across the First Coast.  If that wasn’t enough, throughout the month, we gave everyone a chance to send holiday wishes to Jay Fund families through the Holiday Give-a-Wish program.

2014 has proven to be a truly wonderful year; a year in which we were able to #BeThere for so many families and, with your help and support, renew our vow to continue to #BeThere in the coming year.  Thank you for making 2014 a year of Momentum for the Jay Fund!