By Shaun Ryan
A quarter century after Coach Tom Coughlin launched the Jay Fund Foundation Celebrity Golf Classic, the initiative to help families facing childhood cancer is still going strong.
The event was held virtually last year due to COVID-19, but golfers returned to the course this week for the 26th annual event, which was held in partnership with The PLAYERS at TPC Sawgrass. As in the past, the tournament had the full complement of 155 players.
The two-day event began Sunday night with a celebrity dinner and auction and continued Monday with tournament play.
Returning to the course this year, Coughlin was all smiles.
“It feels like a perfect day for golf,” he said, adding, “We’re excited. I mean, it’s just fun to get back into the swing of things, continue to build relationships, continue to find new friends involved in helping the Jay Fund.”
He said the players were ready to get out on the course the prior evening.
“We had to hold them off a bit,” he joked.
The Celebrity Golf Classic raises funds and awareness, helping families with financial, emotional and practical support so that they can put all their resources and energies toward helping their children get better. In its first 25 years, the foundation raised nearly $9 million at the Celebrity Golf Classic.
Coughlin called the work of the Jay Fund critical.
“There’s nothing worse than hearing your child has cancer,” he said, adding, “The Jay Fund is there to support them, to help them in all the practical ways – keeping a roof over their heads, food on the table, gas in the tank. All of those things. And, unfortunately, funeral expenses.”
He said the foundation was proud to be a help in the community.
One of the highlights of the event is participation by celebrity guests.
This year, that included:
- NFL Hall of Fame inductees Harry Carson and Bill Polian
- former NFL players Bryan Barker, Tony Boselli, Kyle Brady, Steve Deossie, Mark Herzlich, Tom Jackson, Pete Mitchell, Brian Moorman, Josh Scobee, Chris Snee, Marcus Stroud, Fred Taylor and Tim Tebow
- former NFL coaches Dave Campo, Mike Mularkey and Dick Vermeil
- Jacksonville Jaguars Head Coach Urban Meyer, General Manager Trent Baalke and Director of Player Development Marcus Pollard
- U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team Coach Jill Ellis
- former Major League Baseball player Daniel Murphy
- former NBA player Patric Young
- golfing great Jim Furyk
- UConn head football coach Randy Edsall
- actor Kevin Chapman
- former Miss Universe Demi-Leigh Tebow
- ESPN sportscasters Chris Berman, Chris Mortensen and Ed Werder
- radio personality Scot “Froggy” Langley
Coughlin initiated the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation in 1996 during his tenure as head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. He named it after Jay McGillis, who played football for Boston College but succumbed to leukemia in 1992.
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