Marking a quarter of a century of helping families tackling childhood cancer and celebrating our team of supporters.

2020 marked 25 years of the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation helping families tackle childhood cancer in the memory and spirit of the late Boston College safety, Jay McGillis. No one fights this disease alone; it takes a team. We are so grateful for the many supporters who have helped us BE THERE for families so they can BE THERE for their sick child.

For a quarter of a century, the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation has been helping families by keeping a roof over their heads; food on the table; gas in the tank; the lights on; and so much more. We never could have done any of this without our team. Please join us throughout the year as we celebrate and place a spotlight on the individuals and organizations who have helped make Jay’s legacy a reality.



“On Super Bowl Sunday 2008, I was rushed to intensive care after x-rays revealed a football sized tumor in my chest. Shortly thereafter, I was given the diagnosis that would indelibly change my life—Stage 3 Non-Hodgkin’s T-Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma, a type of cancer that was aggressively growing in the form of a tumor, crushing my heart and lungs. I was 14, and in a matter of minutes, the course of my life had drastically altered. That same night, as I watched as the Giant’s win with an incredible touchdown pass, I knew that while the journey ahead may be long—I was going to give it everything I had.

While my body and bones grew weaker in those first few months, my mind and my spirit strengthened. Every morning, I woke up and embraced my chemo cocktail, resolute to thrive despite my disease. It was that summer that I was first introduced to the Jay Fund at the ‘Sunday Blitz’. As I spent time with Coach Coughlin and the Jay Fund staff, I realized that this organization was my new team. Ever since, the Jay Fund has championed me and cheered me on through both my hardest and my best of times. From two years of chemo and countless surgeries and still to this day, the Jay Fund has continued to be there for my family and I, and for that, I am forever grateful.  As I look back now, a cancer survivor, I stand proud and say that while I had cancer, cancer never had me. I graduated from high school at the top of my class, attended NYU with scholarship money from the Jay Fund, studied abroad, something I could have never imagined when I was diagnosed.

And while you might laugh, this experience has taught me that cancer is similar to a game of football. You have your team, and you depend on each other for various reasons. The game will have moments of overwhelming joy and overwhelming sadness, but you endure because you fight for the people beside you, and they will always fight for you and ‘be there’. While you never know what the outcome may be, you give it all you have and never lose sight of hope. So, believe me when I say that I am eternally thankful that I will forever be a part of the best team out there—team Jay Fund.”

Meghan, now 26, lives on Long Island and works in the entertainment PR industry in New York City. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering for Jay Fund events as her way of giving back to her team!


“I was 17 when I found out I had cancer. When I learned about my diagnosis, it didn’t hit me as hard as it hit my mom, but I didn’t realize she had breast cancer and was already going through a cancer journey of her own. The weight of my diagnosis impacted her deeply, and, weirdly, it brought us closer together.

I found a lump in my right jaw in October of 2015 and I was diagnosed with a synovial sarcoma in February 2016. I had my first of many surgeries to remove the tumor in May of 2016, and along with the tumor they took my entire lower right jaw, and it took me out of school for the remainder of my junior year. I underwent multiple surgeries to add plates, screws, and caps to refill my jaw. I also have routine MRIs to make sure there isn’t any residual tumor or new growth. Right now, I am very close to the complete reconstruction of my jaw. My teeth are almost complete, and I have maybe one or two more cosmetic surgeries left to do.

I am the first member of my family to attend college, but I could not have done so without the financial assistance the Jay Fund provided when they awarded me a college scholarship. At the time, my mom was the only bread winner and working two full-time jobs. On top of all her other financial obligations, it was really stressful and hard for her to make ends meet because of the monthly tuition bills. When I found out I won the scholarship, all the stress and worry melted from her face. I’m so grateful for my mom and for the Jay Fund.

As someone who battled cancer, it is such a heavy strain on the heart. This disease can take such a toll on the family – immediate and extended. The life of Jay McGillis may have been brief, but he has given such a bright experience for many others to come. The Jay Fund is such a wonderful thing. My family and I thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the amount of help that we have received these past three years. We are forever grateful for this.”

Davin, now 21, will graduate from Montclair State University in May 2021.


Friday, July 31st, 1998 at 9 a.m. Two-year-old Jack and his mom, Alison, went to the ophthalmologist after she noticed that Jack was having vision issues. The doctor concluded that his optic nerve was enlarged but did not know why, which prompted them to go to the hospital.

Friday, July 31st, 1998 at 10:30 a.m. A diagnosis. Brain cancer, Medulloblastoma.

That’s how quickly Jack’s family’s life was turned upside down, but that was just the beginning of the rollercoaster known as childhood cancer. Jack underwent surgery the following Tuesday. Doctors were successful at removing his tumor; however, during the procedure his motor skills were greatly damaged. But the family pressed forward meeting challenge after challenge, overcoming one obstacle after the other.

Jack began an 18-month chemotherapy protocol, and everything seemed to be going well, but 15 months into his treatment cancer struck again. It had returned. Doctors did two back-to-back stem cell transplants to give Jack a fighting chance while cautioning that this type of cancer has a very low survival rate. Fortunately, Jack’s family got their miracle. Jack defied the odds, and today, the 24-year-old is living his best life. He walked across the stage to receive an alternative high school diploma and is currently employed at a nonprofit, Barkin’ Biscuits.

Throughout all of Jack’s journey, the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund has been there for him, through the thick and thin. “There’s no dollar amount that could compensate for the value that’s been to us,” said Jack’s mother, Alison. “Just that relationship has a value beyond a number. And just being invited to the events and just the comfort and the joy that those events brought -absolutely priceless.”


A vast majority of kindergarteners do not have experiences comparable to Brandie’s. In October of 2009, after  a seizure in the cafeteria during lunch and an ambulance ride with her principal to the hospital, doctors diagnosed Brandie with a brain tumor. For the next year, Brandie went through chemotherapy and radiation.

On top of her childhood cancer hardships, both of her parents have been diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses. Her dad was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. Just recently, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. While this has caused her much difficulty throughout her life, she looks at her situation with a more positive outlook as a result of her childhood cancer experience.

“It just makes [you] stronger,” Brandie said. “But I know I got through it. I know it’s God who is going to get us through and it’s in His hands. And it’s made me appreciate so much more.”

The Jay Fund has always had Brandie’s back, especially after suffering from bullying as she lost her hair in kindergarten. “The Jay Fund made me feel normal,” Brandie said. “They made me feel like a normal kid without cancer. There were ice cream socials with Tom Coughlin. There were concerts. There were Valentine’s Day parties and Christmas parties. It’s just all smiles and you’re so loved by the people there.”

Brandie knew that she had to give back to ensure that other kids who also battled childhood cancer felt the same sense of belonging she had when attending the Jay Fund’s events and parties. Instead of traditional wedding gifts, Brandie and her now husband asked all the guests at their 2018 wedding give directly to the Jay Fund.

Today, Brandie is 17 years in remission. She is happily married and has a strong network of friends and family. She cannot thank the Jay Fund for their endless support during a time when she really needed it.


“With cancer, you have to take things day by day. You wake up and you don’t know what the next day is going to bring. Our life was turned upside down when Jasie was diagnosed with Renal Carcinoma in May 2016. But even with uncertainty, we tried to be strong. Sometimes it was hard, and tasks that I could normally do with ease, were not so easy. At times, it was overwhelming for both Jasie and me. I wanted to go out and run errands, but I needed someone to watch her because she really couldn’t go out for long periods of time. It was really a lot. 

But then there are the good things like the Jay Fund. The Jay Fund was really there for us a lot. Any time I need something, they were there, and they really keep up with us, even now after Jasie passed. They are not like other foundations. They carried us since the day Jasie was diagnosed. I’m looking at my car and it’s paid off thanks to the Jay Fund. What would I have done without them? They never say no. If I called them right now and asked for help, they would still be there for me.

I didn’t know life could be so hard when you have someone sick. The battles I had to go through to get assistance were not easy. When a child has cancer, you quickly realize it’s not just their battle, it’s your battle too and on multiple fronts – the emotional, the financial, and then helping her with the actual battle with cancer. Jasie had three surgeries and they were very depressing for her. She just wanted to be a kid and do what all the other kids were doing. Jasie loved artwork, RoBlox, and Minecraft. The Jay Fund bought her a tablet one Christmas and it brought her so much happiness.” – Karen, Jasie’s mom

Jasie passed December 2018. The Jay Fund was able to provide financial assistance for her funeral thanks to our generous team of supporters. Karen will forever be a part of the Jay Fund family and we will remain forever touched by Jasie’s sweet voice and beautiful soul.


Jordan was just 15 years-old and in utter disbelief when he heard the words, “You have cancer.” He vividly remembers all the fear and questions that flowed through his thoughts when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma, but his parents reassured him that he was going to be alright and they would fight this together.

Jordan’s treatment plan included chemotherapy treatments for six months, and he counts himself lucky. His body responded so well to chemo, and his plan was not extended as is the typical course of action for patients with this disease. Cancer ultimately transformed Jordan’s life to give him a greater feeling of hope and thankfulness. “I could have died long ago, but because of the many blessings that bestowed upon me from heaven, my life has changed,” said Jordan.

Jordan also counts the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund as one of his greatest blessings. On top of assisting his family with his college tuition, they have received undeniable support throughout his whole experience. With hard work, encouragement, and scholarship funds from the Jay Fund, Jordan completed his college education and now works in Atlanta for a national cancer organization.  Jordan notes, “Because of the Jay Fund, I was able to complete my educational dream to show my parents and others that there is life in me, after all the cancer issues I endured.”


“This day was one of the hardest days for me, but I remember it like it was yesterday.”

On a Saturday afternoon in September 2015, the soon-to-be four-year-old Gunner was having fun on the playground. As he was playing, his mom, Andrea, noticed he was having trouble seeing. Unsure and anxious about her son’s health, she immediately scheduled an appointment for that upcoming Monday, the first of October. After an appointment with their pediatrician, a visit to the optometrist, and an emergency MRI at Wolfson, Gunner and his family received a diagnosis that would change their lives forever: Gunner had Pilocytic Astrocytoma, a massive tumor on his brain.

After his diagnosis, Gunner spent 28 days at Wolfson. During that time, he underwent three different brain surgeries, beginning chemotherapy immediately after his third surgery. It’s been over five years since the day of his diagnosis, and Gunner has undergone four CT scans, 20 sedated MRIs, 78 doses of infusion chemotherapy, 760 days of oral chemotherapy, and over 100 accesses to his port. Gunner, who will turn nine in December, is still receiving active treatment – but he refuses to let it knock him down. His treatment makes him tired and has left him visually impaired, and he has to be careful not to damage the shunt in his head that relieves the pressure on his brain. However, despite his complications, Gunner is still learning to read and amazes his parents every day with his resilience. Andrea proudly says that, in spite of everything, Gunner “remains active and does it all so gracefully with strength and bravery.”

Unfortunately, sometimes Gunner and his family feel like their cancer journey is never-ending, and Gunner isn’t the only one affected. “I don’t even remember life before cancer,” Andrea remarks. “That is how much cancer has impacted our life.” After Gunner’s diagnosis, Andrea had no choice but to step away from her job. Caring for her son took priority, but the family’s income suffered as a result. Andrea says, “The financial support from the Jay Fund has allowed our family to focus on our son’s healing by lessening the burden of overwhelming bills on a decreased income.”

Gunner and his family also participate in many Jay Fund events, where they can spend time as a family and meet people who understand their situation. “The connections we have been able to make with other families on a similar journey through the parties and events has been life-changing,” says Andrea. “It has really helped take away the isolation of having a child with cancer.” Andrea has also taken part in the mom’s retreat weekend and now helps to run it. “This retreat has provided an avenue for me to help connect myself with other mothers, but also help mothers and families connect with one another,” she says. Through the retreat, she’s been able to find relief and give purpose to the pain of having a child with cancer.

When Gunner and his family think of the Jay Fund, four simple – but impactful – words come to mind: “Love, Connection, Support, and Fun.” Without this team, Andrea truly doesn’t believe Gunner would be the sweet, fun, and loving young boy he is today.


At age 13, Julia loved being active. She played basketball, soccer, and swam competitively over the summer, never missing a season. Her life changed drastically when she noticed her body becoming weaker and weaker.

In the summer of 1999, Julia was swimming at a meet when she felt like her body just gave out. She described it as if she had no strength, and she was forced to go home without finishing her races. Just a few days later, she was climbing a slide at a swim team party when her vision went completely black. When she developed a fever that night, Julia’s parents decided it was time to get help.

At first, Julia was given a flu diagnosis and some medication and sent home. But after she became so weak she could hardly stand, her father demanded something more be done. One finger prick later and Julia was being rushed to Wolfson. She was immediately given a blood transfusion, and after an emergency bone marrow biopsy, her family’s worst fear was realized. Julia was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia, a cancer in her blood. If she had gone much longer without treatment, she would not have survived.

The first month of Julia’s treatment was intense, her doctors desperate to put her body into remission. Thankfully, the chemotherapy was successful, and Julia’s body began making normal cells again. However, her treatment was only just beginning. For the next two-and-a-half years, Julia was in and out of the hospital. “It was long, and it was hard, and it was tiring,” Julia remarked. “But we just put ourselves in there and did what they told us to do.”

During the first month of her treatment, Julia’s mom and dad could not work because they needed to be with their daughter. Fortunately, the Jay Fund was there to help by paying the family’s bills. Looking back, Julia considers this support indispensable: “It gave my mom and dad the ability to stay with me and not have to worry about work or worry about bills or worry about anything like that. They were able to stay with me, both of them, at the hospital that whole month.”

Now, age 34, Julia is married with two precious kids and she is so grateful to be alive. “I think how much I’ve done in 20 years,” she reminisced. “I would have missed out on so much.”


Paleness and bruising made Megan’s mom, Maureen, worried. After receiving abnormal results from Megan’s bloodwork, the next stop was the hospital to find out what was going on. Maureen was hoping it was that Megan was just anemic. It turned out to be those four words no parent ever wants to hear – your child has cancer. Megan was diagnosed with blood cancer, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, on July 2, 2018.

Maureen believes her family has only gotten closer as a result of Megan’s diagnosis, creating a more tight-knit and supportive household, especially at the Jay Fund special experiences that they could do as a family. “There has been so much stuff and it’s just so nice to go and get out and have some time, meet some other families who have gone through the same thing or are going through the same thing that we’re going through” said Maureen. “Just to get out for a little while and forget about, you know [cancer] – That’s not why we’re there. We’re not there because we’re getting treatment, we’re there to have fun and enjoy ourselves.”

Maureen is eternally grateful for the Jay Fund for not only helping her family financially, but also for supporting their emotional health in such meaningful ways. Jay Fund events have provided Megan and her family with the love and support that they need. Megan was thrilled to be invited to the 2019 Champions for Children Gala. She felt like a celebrity – everyone was shouting her name; the glamor she experienced in her beautiful dress, ready for her close-up, and autographs!

On August 26th, Megan rang the “No more treatment” bell. She will continue routine checkups and will continue attending Jay Fund events (once events resume) to celebrate and help other families just starting their cancer journeys.


Nine-year-old Isaiah bounces around his family’s home like his idol Spiderman. You would never guess that in 2013, this now healthy young boy was diagnosed with the blood cancer Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Isaiah was just 18-months-old when his cancer journey began. He underwent three and a half years of treatment, which included 6 hospitalizations and 12 outpatient procedures.

During this physically, emotionally, and financially exhausting time, Isaiah’s parents separated and eventually divorced. His mom, Nicole, found herself a single parent with no one to lean on. But as the bills piled up and her income was devoured by treatments and hospital visits, Nicole discovered she was unable to go it alone and would have to ask for help. It takes a team to tackle childhood cancer and the Jay Fund was honored to step-up and provide the emergency household funding this family of two so desperately needed to keep a roof over their heads.

Nicole was one of the first parents to fully utilize the Jay Fund’s Financial Game Plan, a financial literacy program that helps families get their finances back on track while their child is fighting cancer. The Jay Fund financial coach spent one-on-one time with Nicole to help her to develop a budget and long-term financial blueprint. After implementing the plan, Nicole was able to save enough money to buy a house that her and Isaiah could call “home”.  Isaiah remains healthy but will continue long-term follow ups, scans, and monitoring for the rest of his life.


Mateo was a happy go-lucky, six-years-old boy – bright, full of energy, and loved playing games, especially soccer. So, when his family received his cancer diagnosis on July 26, 2013, they were in complete disbelief.

Mateo had been playing outside when he complained about some pain. His parents discovered bumps on their son’s body, and became alarmed. Thinking the bumps were a sign of infection, they rushed Mateo to Wolfson. But the news they received that night was far worse than anything they could have imagined. Mateo had a blood cancer called Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL).

“It was a shock for us because we didn’t know anything about it,” said Cecilia, Mateo’s mom. “We didn’t even think about that. That night changed our life forever.”

Treatment was far from easy for Mateo. Chemotherapy was hard on his body, giving him pancreatitis, high fevers, and mouth sores that made it almost impossible for him to eat. During his battle against cancer, Mateo and his family had to spend months at the hospital. Even holidays and birthdays were spent inside hospital walls. Because she was in school, Mateo’s sister could not stay at the hospital and the separation was difficult for everyone. Once his father was forced to return to work, the family was separated even further.

Mateo’s family said that the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation was there to help ease the challenges this disease creates. They received assistance with rent payments and electricity bills, taking some of the weight off their shoulders. This gave Mateo’s parents the peace of mind they needed to BE THERE for their son. They attended every Jay Fund event they could, allowing them precious family time they had been lacking.

Seven years later, Mateo is now finished with treatment and in remission. At 13-years-old, he’s back to his bright, fun-loving self. To Mateo and his family, the Jay Fund means constant support. To this day, they continue to attend Jay Fund events, now virtual, as a family. “They were there when we needed it,” said Cecilia. “In every way.”


Eight-year-old Bryce was on a trip to Walt Disney World when he noticed a throbbing sensation in his knee. Motrin seemed to temporarily alleviate the pain, but Bryce’s mom, Michelle, knew something else was wrong. After a trip to the doctor’s office and a series of tests, they left thinking Bryce just needed to stay off his leg. But when the pediatrician called, he informed Bryce’s mother a tumor was actually causing the pain. A cancer diagnosis soon followed.

Bryce’s roadmap of treatment included six surgeries, six chemotherapy treatments, various medications to help in between, and a partial leg amputation. No one fights this disease alone and with the support and help of his teachers and classmates, Bryce was able to return to school where his peers cheered him on in every way as Bryce achieved his maximum potential.

The family is grateful for both the financial and emotional support the foundation has provided throughout Bryce’s cancer journey. Michelle is particularly grateful for the opportunities the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation provides for families to connect with others going through the same thing. She said, “Knowing that you’re not the only one out there. Having functions and get-togethers so parents, kids, and siblings can get together is huge. A cancer diagnosis affects the whole family and the Jay Fund supports the family as a whole. We couldn’t ask for more.”

Bryce earned the 2019 Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Scholarship Award and is pursuing a degree in film. He is currently participating in a three-year European program where he spends the academic year in Paris and the summer in Boston. While the pandemic interrupted his studies, Bryce is glad to be back in Paris where he has resumed his global film studies.



“The hardest part is not being able to take it away from him. I remember the day Cameron was diagnosed with cancer like it was yesterday,” laments Kesha Davis, mom of the now seven-year-old.

Cameron had a red spot in his eye that would not go away so Kesha took him to an ophthalmologist to try and figure out what was going on. They thought he had hit his eye playing, but instead of getting better, it got worse. Kesha decided to take Cameron to another ophthalmologist and that’s when they told her she needed to go to her pediatrician. Kesha remembers the doctor who had seen Cameron since birth saying after the exam, “It’s not an emergency, but I need you to take Cameron to the ER. Today.”

“This is all on a Tuesday, right before the holidays,” recalls Davis. “I have twins who are three years older than Cameron. They had their holiday play that night at school. And… the way they confirmed it was cancer was with a MRI. And I was in the waiting room of the MRI with my mom and my husband. My mom was visiting. It was taking a very long time. I found out they were calling the pediatrician, reporting what they were finding, and she told me right there in the waiting room over the phone while Cameron was still in the back. I just fell to my knees. I just could not believe it. You know, even when I pass by that room, it brings back those memories. We’ve had countless MRIs since then, but, that’s how I found out.”

Cameron was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in December 2016. He started with high-dose chemotherapy, with each chemotherapy getting harsher and harsher. After 12 rounds and not much progress, the Davis family was worried, and for good reason. Three weeks after starting Kindergarten that September, the doctors discovered a second brain tumor. After nearly 4 years, Cameron is still going through treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering. Almost half of his life has been in the hospital but he has proven himself a rock star.

No on fights this disease alone, and Kesha and her family are incredibly thankful for the financial and emotional support that the Jay Fund has provided her family during Cameron’s fight. She loves the events that the Jay Fund has planned, especially the Sundae Blitz and the Family Fun Day. These events have given not only Cameron support but the whole family. “I just think that the entire family goes through this cancer journey,” said Kesha, “And for them to support the whole family is just the most valuable thing that I could really say about the Jay Fund. Because we really need it. Because you have to stick together as a unit to get through this and to come out on the other side intact.”



“For me, one of the hardest parts about being diagnosed with cancer was having to tell my soccer team I wouldn’t be playing that year,” recalled Joseph Kim. “I don’t know why that was so hard, but it’s probably because cancer had just taken away one of the most important things in the world to me.”

Joseph was diagnosed with a blood cancer called Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in December 2007 when he was just eleven years old. “I went to the doctor not understanding how serious the situation was,” he explained. “But then I saw my parents crying, and that made me cry, even though I truly didn’t understand.”

When treatments started, Joseph found himself confined to the hospital for a prolonged stay. His days were filled with chemo treatments, needles, nurses, and very few interactions with his friends. It was a tough way for a young boy to spend his time when all he really wanted was to lace up his cleats, connect with a soccer ball, find the back of the net, and help his team win games.

Thanks to an amazing team of doctors, nurses, family, and friends, Joseph was able to beat cancer, work on becoming healthy again, and play soccer competitively in high school, even making the varsity team his sophomore year.

Joseph was awarded a Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation survivor scholarship in 2014 which helped him get through college without any financial burden and placed him on a path to earning his Master’s Degree in Public Health. His animated charisma takes over when he expresses his gratitude, “The scholarship alone was huge for my family and me, but the Jay Fund has been more than that to us. It was a resource and a team of individuals who were continuously cheering me on.”

With cancer behind him, Joseph is able to focus on the next chapter of his life. Currently, he is working for Teach for America and the passion in his voice when he speaks about his work is infectious and awe-inspiring. “I had always envisioned myself doing something in the public service sphere, but I didn’t really know what I wanted to do specifically. My dad has been working in education for over 15 years, specifically with undocumented and underserved students. Having been exposed to this work my entire life, when I learned about Teach for America, it was a perfect fit.”

This year, Joseph is headed to grad school at Columbia University and is working as a research assistant in a COVID/HIV lab at the New York Blood Center.



“The day I was diagnosed with cancer is a day I will never forget. It is truly the day my life changed forever,” said Marissa. “I was scared more than anything because I knew what cancer meant; I knew what my chances of survival were, and I knew this fight was not going to be easy.”

On May 24th, 2012, Marissa was diagnosed with Stage 4 Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma, a soft tissue cancer. She was 17 and was told she had a 30 percent chance of survival. Marissa went through 54 weeks of chemotherapy and 6 weeks of Proton therapy radiation before she was given the news that she was cancer free

Marissa tackled cancer with a shiny bald head, a positive attitude, and a brave smile that could light up a room. She tackled cancer with everything she had, and she counts herself fortunate to say she is a cancer survivor. Marissa is, indeed, a fighter. She never lets the words “I can’t” interfere with “Oh, yes, I will.” This determination allowed her to run a Boston Marathon after being told she would not be able to, and Marissa continues to live her life by this same philosophy.

During her cancer journey, Marissa met the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation. Her social worker stepped into the room at Nemours with a Jay Fund backpack and ways for her parents to get financial help. “The Jay Fund have become my second family, and they truly became my biggest cheerleaders throughout my journey,” said Marissa. “Without the Jay Fund, my parents would not have been financially stable, nor would they have been able to impact so many other parent’s lives.”

The Jay Fund has helped Marissa’s family with financial assistance – mortgage payments, supermarket gift cards, and gas gift cards. Marissa also received the 2015 Commander Rick Murray Memorial scholarship, allowing her to attend Florida State University to continue her education. After graduating from FSU, Marissa began full-time with the Jay Fund, giving back to an organization that gave so much to her. She is now happily married, working for her alma mater, and a Survivor Ambassador for the Jay Fund.

If Jay were here at this very moment, the first thing Marissa says she would do is give him a hug and say thank you for inspiring Coach Coughlin to create his legacy. Jay is the reason so many families don’t feel alone in their fight.



In 2018, Kasey was a bubbly, healthy 2-year-old, who loved doing puzzles and was always following her two older sisters wherever they would go. A lingering fever led her and her parents to the hospital hoping for anything but a cancer diagnosis. After their second trip to the hospital, Kasey was diagnosed with B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Lymphoma in March of 2018. Just as any parent, Mike and Jessica were accustomed to solving any problem for Kasey. “Daddy, mommy, fix it,” said Kasey, but this was the one thing they could not fix. After Kasey was diagnosed, their road to recovery began, lasting over two years.

Mike and Jessica knew they could not “fix it” alone, so they reached out to the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund for help. The foundation provided their family with mortgage and auto payments. This financial support allowed Kasey’s mom, Jessica, to attend each and every appointment. Kasey’s family felt a sense of solace knowing they could lean on the Jay Fund both financially and emotionally. After two years of being poked and prodded, going through treatment and steroids, Kasey’s parents just wanted to see her smile. An invitation from the Jay Fund to attend Monster Jam made that happen. “To this day she is a Monster Jam fan. When we were in our darkest and we needed guidance and we needed a light to grab onto, a hand to hold onto: That was the Jay Fund for us. And they continue to shepherd us along” said Mike.

Being diagnosed at such a young age, she may never remember her diagnosis, treatment, or recovery, the highs or the lows. But her father will always remember the support: “The Jay Fund being my teammate during my fight has made me double my efforts to always be a teammate,” said Mike.

With many lows, Kasey found some highs in being able to make friends going through similar journeys and created lasting memories at Jay Fund events. At the time, no one person or no one organization could “fix it” as Kasey would say, “but just putting a smile on your daughter’s face during that time and letting them know that this is going to be okay, at least for today. Absolutely invaluable,” said Mike.

Over the past 25 years, the foundation has been invaluable to over 5,000 families just like Kasey’s by helping keep a roof over their head, food on the table, gas in the tank, the lights on, and so much more.

Kasey is now a bubbly 5-year-old and still following her sisters around. Another great high for her and her family: Kasey celebrated her end of treatment on May 16th, 2020!



Jeremy had spent almost 11 years serving his country in the U.S. Army. He was a tough guy who had seen his fair share of battles, but nothing could prepare him when the doctors told him his little girl had cancer. “From a war fighter’s perspective, the hardest thing in the world is when you can’t protect someone from something,” explained Jeremy as he choked back tears. “And when Kacey was diagnosed with cancer, it broke me because I knew I couldn’t protect her from this.”

Kacey was five-years-old entering the homestretch of Kindergarten when she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a bone cancer. Shortly after the family received the news, Kacey and her mom, Krista, moved into the hospital where Kacey endured over two months of harsh chemotherapy. In the fall, instead of starting first grade, Kacey underwent an amputation surgery called Rotationpasty. This surgery involved the removal of the tumor and knee to turn the remaining healthy leg backwards and reattach it. Her ankle is now her new knee and a prosthetic leg serves as a visible warrior badge of courage.

During Kacey’s family’s cancer journey, they met the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation. The foundation was able to BE THERE for the family financially so mom and dad could be there for Kacey. Jeremy’s voice is filled with gratitude as he describes the impact of having the Jay Fund on his daughter’s team, “We have been able to stay under our roof, together as a family, and keep an outstanding credit score because of the financial assistance from the Jay Fund. The foundation has been there for us through the good and the bad, and they continue to be there for us to this day.”

Kacey is now almost five and a half years out of treatment and no challenge is too big for this young lady. Her smile and zest for life inspires the foundation’s staff every time Kacey and her family come out to one of the Jay Fund’s family outings, and she knows the Jay Fund will always be cheering her on.



When I was 7 years old, is when it all happened. Got diagnosed with cancer. Funny how stuff happen. Thought it was the end; couldn’t cope, then I made a friend; he gave me hope,” raps now 19-year-old cancer-free and confident Blake Herndon.

Blake has a lot to rap about. He has been diagnosed with cancer three times: in 2007, 2010, and 2014, respectively. “I remember how much time I spent in the hospital room that first time. My mom and everyone always trying to make me feel good.”

One place where Blake did get to have fun was at a summer camp for children with serious illnesses that is sponsored in partnership with the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation. Blake’s face lights up like a kid when he recalls the fun he had and the friendships he made: “Boggy Creek is the best thing that any kid that has cancer could do during the summer. You meet amazing friends that understand what you’re going through and at that age, really, no one knows what you’re going through unless you’ve been through it.”

Blake attended this camp every year with the exception of 2014 when doctors determined he needed to undergo a bone marrow transplant. Blake’s incredible faith and determination are a hallmark of his character, and he is quick to express his gratitude to the foundation: “The Jay Fund has helped me forget about cancer, which is the best thing you can have when facing it. But, most importantly, the Jay Fund was there for my parents financially when they needed help the most.”

The foundation has helped over 5,000 families just like Blake’s keep a roof over their head, food on the table, gas in the tank, the lights on, and so much more over the past 25 years.

Blake is pursuing his education while developing his music talent. Last year, he was invited to perform an original rap song at the foundation’s annual Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Celebrity Golf Classic tournament and returned for an encore performance at this year’s Virtual Celebrity Gala in May. “I now see life through a bigger lens, and all I want to do is help people,” reflects Blake. “You really don’t know how long you have on this earth, so living every day is the greatest gift. If I could say one thing to Jay McGillis’s mom, it would be, ‘Thank you. Jay is not forgotten and your family is an inspiration.’”

Click here to view Blake’s inspirational performance at the 2020 Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Virtual Celebrity Gala!



Elizabeth at the 2019 Jay Fund Holiday Party

At three-years-old, Elizabeth was always dancing. But her parents became concerned about a constant leg pain their daughter was experiencing. After months of testing, Elizabeth underwent a bone marrow aspiration. A few days later, on the evening of May 13, 2010, her doctors called to inform her parents that Elizabeth had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.

“It just took our breath away. You really don’t know what to think,” said Brooke, Elizabeth’s mom.

Frank, Elizabeth’s dad, echoed Brooke’s sentiment as he recalled how he felt when he heard his daughter’s diagnosis: “Hearing the words ‘your daughter has cancer’ is truly something no one can be prepared for.”

Elizabeth would begin treatment with spinal, IV, and oral chemotherapy. She received 18 blood transfusions, stayed at Wolfson Children’s Hospital multiple times, and ultimately finished treatment in a little over two and a half years.

It was a year into Elizabeth’s treatment when Brooke and Frank realized they needed financial assistance.

“Cancer comes with a lot of ups and downs, a lot of stress, and a lot of unknowns,” offered Brooke. “One thing I do know is if the Jay Fund didn’t exist, I don’t think our family would have gotten through this. The Jay Fund is like a safety net helping people through their journey, and, truthfully, helping family units stay together.”

“It seems like every time we hit a really low point in our life, the Jay Fund was always there to help pick us back up, financially and emotionally,” continued a grateful Brooke. Elizabeth and her family have been part of many of the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation’s events, which provide quality family time, as well as opportunities to connect with other families going through similar journeys.

Elizabeth’s treatment did cause a small amount of brain damage that has created some learning challenges. Elizabeth is a serious dancer, but because of cancer, it takes her twice as long to learn new dance routines as the other girls in her class. Her mom says it never stops Elizabeth from being the best she can be.


Austin is a creative, fun-loving, and athletic eleven-year-old. He loves swimming, LEGOS, playing chess, the New York Giants, and Captain America. Austin’s infectious giggles bring smiles to the faces of anyone he is around.

But in 2017, when Austin was just eight, there were no smiles as his doctor delivered the four words no family wants to hear: Your child has cancer.

“The day Austin was diagnosed with cancer was a very rough day,” said Radley, Austin’s dad. “Even though we had some inkling that something serious was wrong, we were still not prepared for the messaging.” On July 31, 2017, Austin underwent a biopsy and the results confirmed his preliminary diagnosis: Osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer.

“The hardest part was understanding it all because there is so much to take in at first,” continued Radley. Austin began treatment mid-August 2017 and finished around mid-April 2018. His treatments included in-patient chemo where he stayed at the hospital for a week.

About halfway through treatment, Austin went into a seven-hour surgery to remove his tumor. During this surgery, his leg was reconstructed with a metal implant. After surgery, Austin had to attend regular physical therapy to regain his mobility. His one goal during this time was to spend Thanksgiving with his family, and he did! Austin is now finished with treatment and visits his doctors quarterly to monitor his progress and adjust his leg’s length as he continues to grow. All in all, Austin is doing wonderful.

Cancer has significantly changed Austin’s life. As a result of his treatment, Austin is not allowed to participate in any impact activities and is exempt from gym class. Initially, these changes were devastating for him because Austin loves to run around school with his friends. But Austin isn’t one to let a challenge hold him back. He swims competitively with his club swim team, and has learned to accept his restrictions and focus on trying new activities.

The Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation has been an important member of Austin and his family’s team throughout Austin’s treatment and recovery. The foundation has been able to provide for his family financially, assisting with grocery bills and living expenses. But even more important to Austin and his family are the opportunities to spend time together. “For us, the Jay Fund means the ability to BE THERE for our son during his treatments and BE THERE as a family to celebrate our time together,” said Radley. “If the Jay Fund didn’t exist, it would have been more challenging for us to be there for Austin’s treatments and also meet the needs of our other children.”

If Austin and his family could say one thing to Mrs. McGillis, it would be a huge thank you for helping the Jay Fund come to life. “Jay’s memory and legacy lives on in the children and families the Jay Fund touches every day, and for this our family will be forever grateful.”


My stomach was in a knot as my mom stared in shock at the bruises that covered my entire body. But the pain I was experiencing was nothing in comparison to the anxiety and tension in her voice when she called my dad. It still reverberates in my ears when I think about it.  We picked up my dad from work and rushed to Wolfson’s Children Hospital. We had barely made it through the main entrance before I collapsed and lost consciousness. When I awoke it was to the sound of the steady beat of a heart machine and three blurry figures talking about my condition. I soon discovered I had acute lymphoblastic leukemia. While there was probably enough drama during this time to create a script for a Hollywood doctor drama, I’ll give you the short synopsis. After enduring years of intensive chemotherapy, cranial radiation, and many hospital stays, I was able to make a full recovery. But becoming cancer free wasn’t the end of my journey, but rather just the beginning.

The care and love I had received inspired me, including the support my family received from Coach Coughlin and his nonprofit. When I was offered an internship with the Jay Fund, I jumped at it. I wanted to be a part of raising awareness, creating a metrics program, establishing relationships with families, and helping kids tackling cancer enjoy life to the fullest. I had personally witnessed the emotional and financial impact cancer had on these families and wanted to inspire hope during their journeys. It was an amazing experience to be on the giving support side of the equation. Being with these families, day in and day out, ultimately led me to the decision to go to medical school.

Medical school has been filled with challenges, but also incredible and humbling rewards, including the opportunity to gain unique insights into the lives of families facing a cancer diagnosis. One of the most valuable aspects I witnessed during my time in pediatrics is the empathy shown by the hematologist/oncologist physicians toward families that are facing the unthinkable. These medical professionals really care about their patients and share in the victories, challenges, and sadly, sometimes the defeats their patients face.

On March 20th, 2020, I received news that I matched into University of Florida’s Jacksonville pediatric residency program and will spend the next three years training at Wolfson’s. As I said, becoming cancer free was just the beginning of my story. What I will be able to give back to the medical staff and families who inspire me will write the next chapter.




When asked what she recalls about the day her son Marlon (MJ) was diagnosed with cancer, Michelle McGriff is quick to respond, “I remember that day clearly. He went to church with his father that Sunday morning. When he returned, he had red dots all over his body. I brought him to Wolfson Children’s Hospital to get bloodwork done on New Year’s Eve. We stayed in the hospital that night, and Marlon was diagnosed with cancer that morning.”

When Marlon was originally diagnosed in 2006 the doctors gave him an 80 percent chance of survival. The family was optimistic. He had no side effects when he started treatment, and Marlon was very fortunate because his plan was very manageable.

Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse when Marlon relapsed during chemo and his treatment became more aggressive. After a fourth relapse, the doctors, sadly, couldn’t do anymore.

Marlon lived nine months after his fourth diagnosis. During that short stretch of time, he went back to school and made it to another birthday. He proudly tested as a gifted student. Marlon was just seven-years-old when he passed away on September 13, 2008. “We tried to live as normal as possible, and we honestly were able to do just that,” said Michelle in reflection.

“The Jay Fund meant support to my family and I,” Michelle said. “It gave us our dignity; it relieved us of unnecessary stress that was not needed during these times. I am a very proud woman and I like to do things for myself. When I went to the Jay Fund though, there were no questions, they just chose to be there.” Today Michelle honors her son’s legacy as an ambassador for the foundation, offering her love and support to families going through the unthinkable.




Before Natalie’s parents could even question what the future for their daughter would look like, Natalie had lost her hair and stopped talking due to the immense pain she was experiencing. Natalie was just two years old when she was diagnosed with Burkitt’s Lymphoma.

“We thought Natalie just had the flu, but the next thing I knew they were talking about chemotherapy and surgery,” said Deborah, Natalie’s mom. “Everything went so fast; I couldn’t wrap my head around anything.”

For the year following her diagnosis, Wolfson Children’s Hospital became Natalie’s home away from home. She spent over 70 days in a hospital room – 30 of which were spent in isolation – and she couldn’t have any visits from friends or family. Over the course of treatment, Natalie underwent four spinal taps, five rounds of chemotherapy, seven CAT scans, seven X-Rays, and was put under anesthesia 16 times.

Cancer is expensive, but Natalie’s parents found a friend and the financial assistance they needed in the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation. “The Jay Fund allowed us to focus on helping Natalie and not worry about the bills, food, or gas for our cars,” said Deborah. It also ensured Chris and Deborah’s credit would remain intact, and they stayed safely in their home throughout it all.

In December 2013, they were able to sell their starter home and purchase their forever home they hoped for. “My husband and I both realized without the help from the Jay Fund during Natalie’s treatment, we would not have been approved for the house we both dreamed of,” said Deborah.

But even more important, almost nine years later, Natalie is thriving and living her best life. Natalie and her family said that if Jay were here today, or if they could speak to Mrs. McGillis, they would first give them both a hug. They would then tell Mrs. McGillis, “Jay’s battle has made hundreds of other families tackling this disease a little less stressful, and we thank you for allowing Jay’s legacy to live on.”



Sam and Eli

On July 1, 2011, our youngest son Samuel was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Before I continue, I would like to give you a little back story about our family. My husband, Rick and I, are life long, diehard Giants fans. Our oldest son, Eli, was named after Eli Manning, and we found out I was pregnant with Sam the day the Giants won the Super Bowl in 2008! Our kids, from the start, were destined to follow our lead. Our house bleeds blue.

The fall and winter of 2011/2012 was rough for us.  Sam was really sick.  He was the poster child for childhood cancer. Bald and pale, but still the happiest most joyful three- year-old to be around.  He was a champ. He took everything that was thrown at him with the strength of Godzilla. Godzilla was and still is his favorite. A friend had suggested I reach out to the Jay Fund. A foundation run by, in our opinion, the best coach to grace the Giants organization. Tom Coughlin.

I sent an email thinking they probably couldn’t assist us financially. A woman by the name of Keli reached out to me. I’m not sure when it was, but at some point, I realized the woman that I was communicating with was Coach Coughlin’s daughter.

I still go back to some of the emails she sent. The communication was a bright light in a very dark time.  She sent coloring books, a hat signed by her dad, car magnets. You name it! Anything to make the kids smile. That meant the world to us.

We were even asked to go to their ice cream social at the Giants practice facility where I finally got to meet the person and the people of an organization that was so incredibly kind to our family. We met some of the Giants team and even got to meet Coach Coughlin and his lovely wife Judy.

A few weeks after the ice cream social, Keli had reached out asking if the Jay Fund could use a picture I had sent her of my boys. The picture was pretty symbolic of Eli and Sam.  Eli was a vital piece in Sam’s battle with cancer. Eli hated when Sam wasn’t well and worried more than any small child should ever have to. I had asked my friend Juliet Salzman to take some pictures of the boys earlier that year in the spring. One of the pictures she took resonated with many, including Keli and the people at the foundation. The picture spoke for itself. No One Fights Alone. The capes, the mask, two brothers in it together.

The picture ended up being part of the Champions for Children Gala campaign that year. Rick and I attended the gala and were beside ourselves when we saw the picture of our two beautiful boys on the invitation and the gala program. It is absolutely amazing what a picture can do.

When a child is diagnosed with cancer, your world goes dark. The darkest dark you could ever imagine.  Your entire world crumbles. You are brought to your knees, literally and figuratively. As a parent you look for any glimmer of hope, any sliver of light that will begin to pierce through that consuming darkness.  The Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation and the Coughlin’s were part of that light for us. We are forever grateful for their generosity and kindness.

Sam is 11 now. Cancer free.  Five years off treatment, so in the childhood cancer world, we were able to say that he is finally cured this year. The Jay Fund promises to BE THERE for families facing a childhood cancer diagnosis. So, from the Grady Bunch: Thank you for BEING THERE. ~Rick, Pauline, Eli and Sam



How You Can Join the Jay Fund Team

1. Be an MVP for a child and her family to help keep their lights on, gas in their tank, and a roof over their head. MAKE A GIFT NOW. No dollar amount is too small.

2. Be a part of our patients’ cheering section during their cancer journey by following us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter @tcjayfund.

3. Join our huddle – everyone needs a team, especially those fighting cancer. Find out how to become an Impact Player by hosting a third party fundraiser/awareness event.