NASCAR Executive Vice Chair Lesa Kennedy was honored for her support of children’s causes during the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund’s annual Champions of Children Gala on Oct. 2. The celebrity-driven evening raised close to $1 million and Kennedy was recognized alongside former NFL quarterback Eli Manning and James Dunne III, vice chairman and senior managing principal of Piper Sandler Companies, and George and Barbara Bush posthumously, as part of the virtual event.
Hosted by Legendary NBC 4 New York sports broadcaster Bruce Beck and joined by “the voice” of the NFL’s New York Giants, Bob Papa, the two toasted the foundation’s 2020 honorees with the help of NASCAR Cup Series drivers Jimmie Johnson and Joey Logano; Jay Monahan, PGA chairman; Andy Reid, head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs; Joe Judge, head coach of the New York Giants; and Daniel Jones, quarterback for the New York Giants.
The Jay Fund Foundation was founded by Super Bowl champion head football coach Tom Coughlin and for 25 years has been devoted to providing financial and emotional assistance to families tackling childhood cancer. This year, the organization recognized Kennedy for her steadfast commitment to the community and work with Habitat for Humanity and the American Heart Association. Kennedy has also focused her time on children’s charities including The NASCAR Foundation, founded by her mother, Betty Jane France, and the Victory Junction Gang Camp.
“It was an incredible evening, and we are so grateful to all of our honorees for stepping up during these uncertain times to help us raise money for our families in New York and New Jersey who are tackling childhood cancer,” said Tom Coughlin, co-founder of the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation. “The pandemic has caused a 52 percent increase in requests for emergency financial assistance from our already vulnerable families, and we are so grateful to our donors and supporters who have helped us meet that need.”
In 2019, the Jay Fund provided scholarships on behalf of NASCAR to two courageous cancer survivors, helping both young men realize their dreams of a secondary education. Nazim Cheek became the first member of his family to attend college while the other recipient, Christian Ferrao, is currently enrolled in college and studying civil engineering.
“As a mother, it’s difficult to imagine the unthinkable challenges these families are striving to overcome,” Kennedy said. “The Jay Fund’s work in this critical area is not only inspiring, it sets an example for all of us to follow.”
The Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation was developed in honor of one of Coughlin‘s former players at Boston College, Jay McGillis, with its mission to BE THERE for families so they can BE THERE for their sick child. Since its inception, the Jay Fund Foundation has served more than 6,000 families and provided more than $14 million in financial assistance to thousands of families in Northeast Florida and the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area.