(April 24, 2017 – New York, NY) - The Kelly Cares Foundation, established by Notre Dame head football coach Brian Kelly and his wife Paqui, honored Buffalo Bills great and Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Kelly and ALS Ice Bucket Challenge co-founder Patrick Quinn at its 7th annual Irish Eyes Gala on Monday, April 24 at The Pierre Hotel in New York City. 400 guests attended the gala that raised more than $1 million to support local, national, and global causes.
The Irish Eyes Gala, the Kelly Cares Foundation’s signature event, celebrates “game changers” – those that have demonstrated a dedication to improving the lives of others, and, in turn, inspire hope to all they encounter along the way. The Kelly Cares Foundation will use the funds raised to help improve the lives of others, notably through organizations that focus on health and education in their respective communities.
Legendary band Chicago performed a selection of their greatest hits for attendees and Jack Nolan, Voice of the Fighting Irish, hosted the gala. Additional attendees included former New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, Pro Football Hall of Famer and former General Manager of the Buffalo Bills Bill Polian, New York Giants defensive end Romeo Okwara, former Notre Dame quarterback and 2017 NFL draft entrant DeShone Kizer, and former Notre Dame All American wide receiver Corey Robinson.
“When you think of what it means to be a ‘game changer,’ you’d be hard pressed to find better examples than Patrick Quinn and Jim Kelly,” said Brian Kelly. “What these two men have done, not just to raise awareness and funds, but also to inspire hope for a brighter future is nothing short of extraordinary. We are honored to celebrate their achievements with them tonight.”
“All of the honorees the Kelly Cares Foundation has ever recognized share one primary trait, a fearless commitment to put good into the world, no matter the obstacles standing in their way,” said Paqui Kelly. “The Irish Eyes Gala is an opportunity to showcase the power that one person has, the results that one person can achieve, and the collective good we can accomplish in our communities when we work together.”
Jim Kelly received the “Leadership in Health Award” for his for his courageous battles with cancer and his work with his two foundations, Hunter’s Hope, which aims to raise awareness of Krabbe Leukodystrophy and search for a cure, and Kelly for Kids, which serves disadvantaged and disabled youth in Buffalo, New York. Kelly, who is a Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback who led the Buffalo Bills to four consecutive AFC championships, along with his wife Jill established Hunter’s Hope in 1997 when their infant son Hunter was diagnosed with Krabbe Leukodystrophy, an inherited fatal nervous system disease. Bill Polian, Pro Football Hall of Famer and former General Manager of the Buffalo Bills, presented Kelly with the award.
“No matter where you come from or how you grow up, every person has the ability to make a difference today for someone who is fighting for their tomorrow,” said Jim Kelly. “Tonight acknowledges our collective efforts to help those who are less fortunate, and I am very honored to be recognized for the work of my foundations, Hunter’s Hope and Kelly for Kids.”
Patrick Quinn received the “Spirit of Giving Award” for his work to raise awareness of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS. A month after his 30th birthday, Quinn was diagnosed with ALS. Shortly thereafter, he founded “Quinn for the Win” which has hosted dozens of fundraisers to benefit ALS research. In 2014, Quinn was a co-founder of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge which raised more than $220 million globally.
“Since my ALS diagnosis, I set out to be a game changer,” said Quinn. “ALS is very difficult, but I’ve worked hard to try and make a difference. From the previous winners to the award name itself, Spirit of Giving, it’s truly an honor to be recognized by the amazing Kelly Cares Foundation.”
The Kelly Cares Foundation also paid special tribute to former NYPD detective Steven McDonald. McDonald, who passed away earlier this year, received the Kelly Cares Foundation “Spirit of Giving Award” at the 2015 Irish Eyes Gala.
Brian Caufield of Moore Capital Management served as the event chairman. Committee members for the Irish Eyes Gala were Ginny Biggins, Danielle Bouchard, David Conroy, Paul Kelly, Les McCarthy, Kelly McKenna, John Mosley, Mike Wilcox, and Jeane Willis.
The Kelly Cares Foundation, now in its ninth year, has established itself as a “Playbook for Hope.” The Foundation’s mission strengthens communities and inspires hope by investing resources to improve Health and Education. The communities touched by the Foundation are a model of educational success and wellness that provide hope and inspiration to all.
Since its founding in 2008, the Kelly Cares Foundation has donated over $3.5 million to support causes locally, nationally and globally. Some organizations that have received contributions from the Foundation include the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, The Paqui and Brian Kelly Comprehensive Breast Center, The University of Notre Dame, Breezy Point Disaster Relief Fund, Andean Health Global, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Memorial Children's Hospital, Boys & Girls Club, and the YMCA.
Posted on April 27, 2017