Brian Kelly, head football coach at the University of Notre Dame, has donated $225,000 to the Rockaway Point Breezy Point Catholic Club that was devastated by Hurricane Sandy.
Thousands lost their homes and have not, as yet, rebuilt because of red tape. Breezy Point is the most Irish enclave in the United States, home to generations of Irish firefighters and cops. They lost many first responders on 9/11 as well.
Kelly and his wife Paqui made the donation through their charitable organization, the Kelly Cares Foundation, and the couple visited the club on Tuesday evening for a ribbon cutting ceremony.
“We are so grateful to Coach Kelly and his wife for their support,” Keir Johnson, president of the club, told the Irish Voice.
“You know we’re a very Irish American community out here, and I don’t doubt that Coach Kelly realized that and wanted to help us because of that.”
The Catholic Club was virtually destroyed by the storm, and only recently reopened in a limited capacity. Among those who helped refurbish the club were the Irish Gaelic Players Association (GPA), whose members traveled to Breezy Point for several days early in 2013 to help with the clean-up and recovery efforts.
“They were terrific,” Johnson said. “They took out a lot of the debris and helped any way they could.”
The Kelly Cares Foundation grant was secured for the club last year. The locals, Johnson said, are eager to show their appreciation to the Kellys for the assistance.
“We have lots of Notre Dame fans around here and I imagine that there will be lots of Irish flags flying when Coach Kelly arrives,” Johnson said.
The Kellys are in New York twhis week not only for the Breezy Point event, but to also celebrate the work of their foundation at a dinner which will be attended by a number of notables, including rock star Jon Bon Jovi and his wife Dorothea, recipients of the inaugural Kelly Cares Spirit of Giving Award for the work the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation does to combat hunger and homelessness.
According to a press release, the Kelly Cares Foundation, now into its fifth year, was founded with the objective of supporting organizations, initiatives and programs that closely align with the goals and values of the Kelly family in the three pillars of health, education, and community. The foundation is establishing itself as a “Playbook for Hope” in the local community and beyond as it seeks to provide direct and immediate assistance for as many people as possible.