GRIEFHAVEN AND THE TJ COUGHLIN JAY FUND
JUNE 27-27, 2014 – Report by Susan Whitmore, griefHaven Founder
What an incredible honor it has been to be a part of the TJ Coughlin Jay Fund organization. I was privileged to be the keynote presenter on Saturday morning, opening up the conference. I then conducted three workshops Saturday afternoon, with my husband Wendell at my side.
All of the families in attendance lost a child, sibling, or grandchild to cancer…a journey I know well.
On Sunday morning I shared an overview of the weekend, how to go on in life without our children, and what it means to embrace life once again. Tom Coughlin, founder of the Jay Fund and coach extraordinaire for the New York Giants, gave a passionate and moving talk to the audience of parents and siblings who were gathered together for the final candle light ceremony. Coach Coughlin spoke of Jay McGillis, the inspiration behind the Jay Fund, who died from leukemia. Jay was a special young man who developed leukemia while a member of Coach Coughlin’s team at Boston College. As a result of the devastation on every level, including financially, to the McGillis family, Coach Coughlin vowed that if he ever had the chance, he would create a way to help families with children battling cancer. And so he has…
As many of you know, Wendell and I know the stress and struggles of finances. When Erika was diagnosed with her extremely rare sinus cancer, she had no health insurance in the United States because she had been living for years in Canada with her husband who was Canadian. That was her new home. But it was only in the U.S. that Erika could receive the potentially life-saving treatments. Of course, we did everything humanly possible to gather the funds for Erika’s treatment, including cashing out our retirement fund, using the proceeds from selling our home, and filling every credit card we could get our hands on. What parent wouldn’t? Yet when Erika died, we were left owing hundreds of thousands of dollars. It was a stress on top of the grief. Coach Coughlin has made sure that the foundation’s families never have to endure the burden of financial pain on top of the grief that follows the death of a child.
About the TJ Coughlin Jay Fund: The TJ Coughlin Jay Fund was started by Tom Coughlin in 1996 and helps families tackle childhood cancer by providing comprehensive financial, emotional and practical support. The Jay Fund gives financial assistance to families dealing with childhood cancer, helps with the overall quality of life for the child and family, provides special events throughout the year, and supports treatment facilities that help improve the quality of life for the patient and families.
Simply said, YOU ROCK JAY FUND!