Brian Kelly, Paqui Kelly

Notre Dame head football coach Brian Kelly and wife Paqui, co-founders of the Kelly Cares Foundation, celebrate the 10th anniversary of the foundation at the Irish Eyes Gala on May 7 in New York.

{child_flags:featured}Staying true to its roots

{child_byline}By Eric Hansen

South Bend Tribune

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BRIDGMAN, Mich. — As the Kelly Cares Foundation celebrates its 10th year of existence, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly and wife Paqui are mindful of how the charity gained valuable momentum.

“When we got here, we were really riding on the backs of coach (Ara) Parseghian and coach (Lou) Holtz and what they had established,” Brian Kelly said Monday at the Kelly Cares Golf Invitational fundraiser at Lost Dunes Golf Club.

“We wouldn’t be here without the great assistance from coach Parseghian and coach Holtz.”

The KCF Invitational, in fact, morphed from the Irish Legends Charity Golf Classic, that fed Parseghian’s and Holtz’s foundations. So Monday, Kelly Cares cut a $10,000 check each to the Lou Holtz Charitable Foundation and the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation.

In 10 years, Kelly Cares has raised more than $4.2 million for its projects, one of the latest being a book drive.

“We partnered with another sponsor and they donated books so that we could establish libraries in schools, churches and local community centers,” Paqui Kelly said.

“One of the things we did in New York at our gala in early May was donate 10,000 books to one of the Catholic schools. That was really exciting to see the kids’ excitement. When you see the impact, that’s really special.

“Education is part of our thread, as is building communities. We really feel if you improve the health of people and improve education, the community’s going to thrive. and it’s going to have a direct impact in a positive way.”

Paqui Kelly is a two-time breast cancer survivor, and the foundation started as a movement to help bring awareness, knowledge and funds to the fight against breast cancer. But there are so many other tentacles and so much more reach to a charity that celebrates its unconventionalities in terms of scope (wide), size (small) and the desire to be first responders (in a big way).

“I think all the stories (of making a difference) motivate me and our staff,” Paqui Kelly said. “But there are so many needs still out there that need to be met.”

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ehansen@sbtinfo.com Twitter: @EHansenNDI

(1) comment

FredPhillips

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