Kids with Cancer, Families Enjoy Day Out at MetLife Stadium

| 05/14/2024

By: Steven Schwankert

The Tom Coughlin Jay Fund has benefitted from grants provided by the Mother Cabrini Foundation

Families, caregivers, and volunteers take the field at MetLife Stadium, at an event organized by the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund. The Fund has received grants from the Mother Cabrini Foundation for its work in support of families with childhood and teenage cancer.
Families, caregivers, and volunteers take the field at MetLife Stadium, at an event organized by the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund. The Fund has received grants from the Mother Cabrini Foundation for its work in support of families with childhood and teenage cancer. Photo by Ken Alswang.

About 300 young cancer patients, their family members, and caregivers got a break from school and treatment at MetLife Stadium in northern New Jersey, on Monday, May 6. 

The children were guests of the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund, named both for the New York Giants’ former two-time Super Bowl-winning coach, and Jay McGillis, who played for Coughlin at Boston College.

The kids and their companions were welcomed with lunch, games, and performances by a DJ, all of which was provided by the New York Giants football team, according to Jay Fund representatives. They then moved to the team’s locker room, where they were welcomed by former Giants’ offensive lineman and TV color analyst Shaun O’Hara. With the help of Giants’ staff members, the visitors were able to see helmets, pads, and cleats up close. 

From the locker room, the guests moved on to the field, where they had the opportunity to throw and catch footballs, play on an inflated slide, and kick field goals through inflatable goal posts. 

The day ended with sundaes for everyone back in one of the stadium’s club rooms.

Serving Families in New York/New Jersey and Florida

Before Fund founder Coughlin was a Super Bowl-winning coach with the Giants, he coached at Boston College, where McGillis, one of his players, was diagnosed with, and later died of, leukemia. In visiting McGillis in the hospital Coughlin saw the hardships that families of younger cancer patients faced, not just medical costs, but crippling ancillary expenses such as accommodation, transportation, and loss of income when parents must quit their jobs to care for children full-time. “Coughlin vowed that if he ever had the chance, he would create a way to help families with children battling cancer,” the Fund’s website said.

The Fund now serves families in the two cities where Coughlin coached, the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area, and Jacksonville, Florida, home of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

In the New York area, the Jay Fund has benefitted from grants from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation (MCHF), one of the largest foundations in the United States and the largest foundation focused exclusively on health care across New York State.

“A cancer diagnosis is difficult for anyone to accept but it especially hits low-income families hard, as high medical costs force them to make some tough decisions. The Mother Cabrini Health Foundation is proud to partner with the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund in their efforts to provide resources and relief to these families in NYC but more importantly, to let them know that there is support and hope,” Jason Chang, program officer of MCHF, told The Good Newsroom.

“We have about 300 total families in New York and New Jersey, about half in New York,” said Mary Jane Pulzello, managing director for the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund in the New York metropolitan area. “We are trying to cover and help more families every year. We’re not just one and done. A family may be diagnosed and the minimum amount of treatment will be two or three years, but we’ve helped families as long as eight years,” Pulzello said. They are currently applying for a MCHF grant of $400,000, having received $120,000 and $240,000 grants already, respectively.

A recipient’s gratitude

Lanya Arzu Blanco’s son was diagnosed with stage 3c colon cancer at age 16, a rare condition for a young person. In order to care for him, Arzu Blanco was forced to quit her job, leaving her facing numerous bills and unmet costs. Through a social worker, she was pointed to the Jay Fund for assistance. 

“The Jay Fund, honestly, is a blessing. It’s what I prayed for. I am thankful,” she said. “Do you know when you pray for something, and it seems there is no answer? Words cannot express exactly what the Jay Fund has done for us. You can see it, you can feel it, it is genuine, it is from the heart.”

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