Former New York Giants head coach, Tom Coughlin and his foundation, the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund, helped pediatric cancer patients and their families celebrate Valentine's Day a little early this week, visiting St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center in New Jersey on Tuesday morning. The foundation's mission is to help families financially, emotionally, and in practical ways when a child is diagnosed with cancer.
Additionally, former New York Giants Punter, Steve Weatherford, joined the foundation for a visit with patients and families at Stephen D. Heffenfeld Children's Center for Cancer & Blood Disorders in New York City, the following day.
The mornings at each hospital were spent visiting with families, crafting Valentines with the kids, and enjoying cupcakes and rice crispy treats. There were lots of hugs, smiles, New York Giants fans, and for a few brief moments, the kids weren't thinking about their treatments.
Weatherford really got into the spirit of the celebration and came dressed as Cupid. The father of four spent time talking to each of the patients, and showing off his skills, creating the perfect Valentine.
Familiar names like New York Giants linebacker, Mark Herzlich and Sports Illustrated's Peter King penned notes of support and encouragement to the families, while children from St. Rita Catholic School in Alexandria, VA, and individual Jay Fund supporters made beautiful Valentines for the foundation to distribute to the young cancer patients.
And to top it off, former President George Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush penned a letter to the collective Jay Fund family, offering their support and love to families tackling childhood cancer.
When asked what compels him to support the Jay Fund, Steve Weatherford said, "Any opportunity to help Coach in any of his philanthropic work is something that I am excited to get behind. Having come from a background where my family struggled when I was growing up, I feel so blessed to be in a position where I have the opportunity to positively affect my community and give back."
The Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation has a $10 million fundraising goal, the amount needed to establish the Jay Fund in perpetuity in the New York/New Jersey area. Since resigning, Coach Coughlin has been directing his energies toward raising the final $4 million to reach this goal. Additionally, the Jay Fund also helps families in Jacksonville, FL where Coughlin once held the position of head coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"Being a father myself, the foundation's mission naturally hits home," said Weatherford. "I can't even begin to imagine the amount of stress having a child diagnosed with cancer would have on a family. And yet, if I didn't know where I was, I would have never guessed that these children were all undergoing medical treatment for serious medical conditions. The amount of strength and bravery that I observed during my visit goes far beyond anything I ever achieved on the football field."
To learn more about the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation, visit www.tcjayfund.org.