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The word “team” is derived from the from Old English tēam meaning “descendant, family” and the Old English tēon which means “to draw, pull.”
As a coach, I am constantly asked what makes a winning team, yet the answer is right there in the word’s origin. Before a team can win, it must first draw together as a family. The group must very consciously decide to uphold the highest values, practice cooperation, love, hard work, commitment, pulling together for something more than self.
That is the essence of the word, in theory and in practice.
When the Coughlin family decided to make Jacksonville their home in 1995, we also decided it was the right time to honor the life and legacy of Jay McGillis and build a team of our own with the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation.
Jay was a hardworking safety for the Boston College Eagles when I was their head coach. He was diagnosed with leukemia and fought a battle with a legion of family, friends, and teammates by his side. Unfortunately, Jay’s fight didn’t have the happy ending his parents had prayed for, but it did something else. It opened our eyes to the incredible financial and emotional toll this disease has on a family, and it galvanized us into action.
Over the past 25 years, Jay has become as much a part of the Jacksonville community as he was a part of the Brockton community.
Together, we’ve helped over 5,000 families and provided over $13 million in financial assistance to families tackling pediatric cancer. Our foundation has been able to do this because of our incredible team. We are so grateful, and that gratitude begins with the franchise that brought us here in the first place, the Jacksonville Jaguars.
I’m humbled by the way the owners, the front office staff, the coaches, the players, the fans, and the community have supported our foundation for a quarter of a century. In those early days, the Jaguars allowed us to operate out of the stadium’s office space. Franchise staff didn’t hesitate to volunteer their time to get us up and running, and they continue to be a critical part of our team.
So to Shad Khan, Tony Khan, J. Wayne and Delores Weaver, Deron Cherry, Lawrence DuBow, Preston Haskell, W.A. “Sandy” McArthur, Thomas Petway, David Seldin, Ron Weaver, Fran Foley, Mike Perkins, Doug Marrone, Dave Caldwell, Dan Edwards, Mark Lamping, and ElizaBeth Mayers: thank you from the bottom of our hearts for helping us to BE THERE for families so they can BE THERE for their sick child.
Each of you is a reminder that it takes a team to fight childhood cancer.
And speaking of reminders, on my desk is a rock that a patient named Alex McCarter gave to me.
Alex was diagnosed with Medullablastoma, a common brain cancer in children, in 1998. His was one of the first families we were able to help financially. The McCarter family quickly became a part of the foundation’s family. The thoughtfulness of Alex’s gift was not lost on me. That rock is a constant reminder of the strength of the families we get to help and the slice of stability we are able to provide when they need it most.
The great basketball coach John Wooden wrote, “Make each day your masterpiece . . . .give thanks for your blessings and pray for guidance.” We kick off this new year full of praise and thanks for the blessing each of you are and have been as we mark 25 years of Jay miracles.
I hope you will join with us throughout 2020 to be a part of our anniversary and to find out ways you can help our local families who need it most. Thank you and may 2020 be a year of hope and good health for all.
To learn more about how you can become a member of team and help families tackling childhood cancer visit tcjayfund.org or follow us on twitter @tcjayfund #ThisIsMyTeam.
Tom Coughlin is a two-time winning coach of the Super Bowl and co-founder of the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation.