Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning are well acquainted with one another. Together, their leadership and team-first mentality earned the New York Giants two Super Bowl titles and carved a steadfast legacy. But after their football reign, the duo is teaming up to make an impact that transcends the world of football.
Sept. 1 marks the beginning of Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month, a cause near and dear to both Manning and Coughlin.
Since 2015, Eli has served as Team Captain at Tackle Kids Cancer; and as the philanthropic arm of Hackensack Meridian Children's Health Children's Cancer Institute (CCI) in New Jersey, Tackle Kids Cancer is challenging the status quo by funding research initiatives and treatment within the institute.
Manning's former coach Tom Coughlin shares a similar regard for his community. Coughlin founded the Jay Fund in honor of Jay McGillis, a member of Coughlin's football team at Boston College. His foundation works closely with families impacted by pediatric cancer and is centered on mitigating the financial burden associated with pediatric cancer. The Jay Fund has provided over $16 million in grants to date. His geographic scope spans the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area and Northeast Florida.
Amidst their common ground, Manning and Coughlin are joining forces for Hunger Action Month – also recognized in September. Food insecurity is far too common among families affected by pediatric cancer, and the pandemic has exacerbated the trend. Brenda Koester, the associate director of the Family Resiliency Center at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, shared how food insecurity adversely affects children with pediatric cancer: "The inability to obtain adequate or nutritious food may lead to malnutrition and impact patients' tolerance and response to oncology treatment, increasing their risks of cancer recurrence and mortality."
Coughlin's Jay Fund experienced a 52 percent increase in requests for food and rent assistance, and the statistic remains alarmingly high today. Tackle Kids Cancer is working with donors and social workers to meet similar demands. Manning and Coughlin are passionate that a child with pediatric cancer should be a family's utmost priority.
"Our individual experiences have brought us together because we know it is not a platitude when we say no one fights cancer alone. Now, more than ever, we need those in search of doing something that matters to lend a helping hand to families living the nightmare of having a child diagnosed with a life-threatening disease," Eli and Tom shared in their People Magazine feature.
Together, they are leveraging the power of teamwork to fight hunger and pediatric cancer one family at a time.