Former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly was not at his 28th Annual Jim Kelly Annual Celebrity Golf Classic on June 2 as he is still recovering from sinus cancer, but his presence resonated strongly. His former teammates were there to help support him.
Jim Kelly's 28th Annual Celebrity Golf Classic was a success.
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The Buffalo News' Mark Gaughan covered the event, which raised somewhere between $250,000 to $300,000 for charities in Western New York:
"Jim Kelly's friends showed up at Terry Hills Country Club Monday motivated to honor his commitment to charity, even though the Hall of Fame quarterback remained in the hospital battling cancer.
"'Everybody here is to not only aid his charity endeavors but to show their support for him and their affection for him,' said former Bills general manager Bill Polian. 'All we can do now is hope that the treatment, difficult as it has been on him and his family, works and that six or eight weeks from now we'll have some good news.'
"'We miss him being here but by the same token, this is more than just some guys getting together for another event,' said Bills great Steve Tasker. 'It's like a reunion; not just a team reunion but a family reunion for a lot of guys who've known each other for decades.'
"'These guys are lifelong friends. The fact that Jim can't be here won't change that.'
"A total of 57 celebrities teamed up with a couple hundred golfers for the 28th annual Jim Kelly Celebrity Golf Classic. The event, along with the charity auction held Sunday night, was expected to raise between $250,000 and $300,000 for Western New York charities, said Kelly's brother, Dan.
"Kelly remained in Erie County Medical Center, recuperating from six weeks of chemotherapy and radiation treatments he received to fight the nasal cavity and upper jaw cancer that was discovered in March.
"With the completion of the chemotheraphy and radiation last week, doctors have said Kelly must wait six to eight weeks before tests can determine the degree to which they succeeded.
"Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino, Kelly's long-time friend and fellow member of the historic quarterback Class of 1983, visited Kelly on Sunday.
"'It's hard to even understand what he's going through,' Marino said. 'Jim is a dear friend. You just wish the best for him. He's a tough guy, you know? He's in a point in his life that -- he's won a lot of football games and whatever -- he's in the fight for his life. He'll win.'
"'You're so used to seeing Jim as a strong man,' Marino said. 'But he's going to get better. All we can do is pray for him and hope for the best.'"
Gaughan points out several former Bills players were on hand for the event. Among them were Andre Reed, Thurman Thomas, Marv Levy, Joe Lamielleure, Fred Smerlas, Phil Hansen, Booker Edgerson, Ruben Brown Tasker and Polian.
Several current Bills were also in attenance as was team owner Mary Wilson, per The Buffalo News report.
According to ESPN, Kelly shaved his head on May 31 as his hair continued to thin as a result of chemotherapy. His brother Dan followed suit during the golf tournament and even encouraged others to join them.
Among the charities which will benefit from the tournament is the Kelly for Kids Foundation "which aims to improve the quality of life for disadvantaged and disabled children in Western New York,"notes WIVB.com's Lauren Brill.
Kelly passed for 35,467 yards, 237 touchdowns and 175 interceptions on an 84.4 percent passer rating in his 11-year NFL career, all spent with the Bills, per ESPN stats.
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