Brian and Paqui Kelly travel to New York for their Kelly Cares Foundation
NEW YORK, NY. - It was a big night in the Big Apple for Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly.
His Kelly Cares Foundation held a black tie fundraiser in New York City on Monday, gathering a star-studded group either close to the organization or to Notre Dame.
"Our foundation now has spread coast-to-coast," Kelly said, "and we just thought New York would be a great opportunity for us to get all of our important people together, if you will."
This year's Irish Eyes Gala celebrated the foundation's 10th year in existence, and brought numerous celebrities. They included former Notre Dame and New York Giants star Justin Tuck, Boston Red Sox pitcher Rick Porcello, and broadcast legend Regis Philbin, who Kelly credited with bringing the foundation to New York.
Kelly said there was plenty to be proud of over the past decade, most notably the efforts of his wife Paqui, who co-founded the organization.
"The operation is so much more than people think in terms of behind-the-scenes," he said. "I'm so proud of Paqui, and those that really put in the hours and time. We have an incredible staff, and then certainly the ability to give back."
Kelly Cares has raised more than four million dollars to date, and made another strong commitment to fundraising at Monday's gala. Though Paqui vowed to continue shooting for the stars in a monetary sense, she said every impact has been valuable.
"It's the number of people we've been able to help so far, both large- and small-scale," she said. "It's seeing the faces. That's the stuff that really thrives. We're a group of five but we have an extended family and friends that allow us to make an impact in our world."
Those faces included children at St. Charles Borromeo School in Harlem, where the Kellys visited Monday morning. Kelly Cares donated one thousand books to that school, and a total of 10 thousand to elementary schools around New York City.
"I urge people to get involved in non-profits," Paqui said. "There are so many people in need, and you probably have time, a treasure, or a talent that we all could use."
In addition to notable attendees, several stars with Notre Dame ties were also honored at the Irish Eyes Gala for their own charitable works.
Former Irish quarterback Brady Quinn received the Leadership in Community" award for his work to help veterans facing homelessness and other issues. The family of Ara Parseghian received the "Leadership in Health" award for their continued efforts towards finding a treatment for Niemann-Pick Type C disease, a cause close to the late Irish coach's heart. Former NBA star David Robinson, whose son Corey played for Kelly as a wide receiver, received the "Leadership in Education" award for the Robinson Family Foundation's work towards community development.