Friends, former teammates show support at Jim Kelly Classic
by Joe Buscaglia,posted Jun 2 2014 12:58PM
Over the past 27 years, the Jim Kelly Celebrity Classic Golf Tournament has been quite the spectacle for all those involved. In the 28th year, the same vigor was brought by many that made the trip to Terry Hills Golf Course in Batavia, NY, except there was one notable absence.
The man that the very event is named after, Jim Kelly, was advised against attending for health reasons following the conclusion of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Speaking on his behalf, Kelly’s brother Dan addressed the media as the tournament kicked off on Monday morning.
“Talking to him yesterday, he really wanted to figure out if there was a way he could be here,” Dan Kelly said. “For his best interests, it was important that he didn't come today, as much as he wanted to.”
One of his closest friends and teammates with the Bills, Hall of Fame running back Thurman Thomas spoke one his pal not physically being in Batavia.
“I think you can still feel the presence of him being here and not being here because all of the players that have shown up, it's the biggest outing I think we've had over the history of his celebrity golf tournament,” he said. “We knew there could be a chance that he wouldn't be here, but I think with all the players showing up, his presence is here and his presence is missed.”
With 57 celebrities in attendance, many join Thomas in the belief that this year’s tournament is the one with the biggest turnout since they started it 28 years ago. Dan Kelly estimated that anywhere from $250,000 to $300,000 will go to western New York charities because of the money raised by the Jim Kelly Celebrity Classic.
Former Bills players such as Thomas, Andre Reed, Bruce Smith, Steve Tasker and Phil Hansen were all in attendance, as was former Bills general manager Bill Polian. From the current Bills regime, head coach Doug Marrone and center Eric Wood were each there among others from the 2014 version of the franchise. The current controlling owner of the Bills, Mary Wilson, showed up with her support and took part in the festivities as well.
They even gave a personal touch to the event, with a chair and a haircutter station right outside the clubhouse. Jim Kelly recently shaved off all his hair after much of it fell out following his treatments for cancer, so many sat down and showed their support by getting their hair shaved off as well.
For each person that went through with it, a donation was made to Camp Good Days. Kelly’s brother Dan was the first of likely many to do so.
Despite the hardship that Kelly is going through, he made sure that this event went on without any questions asked.
“From day one when Jim was diagnosed, one of the first things he said was ‘make sure we have the golf tournament and make sure we have the football camp no matter what happens,’” Dan Kelly told reporters. “We're committed to that for Jim, and with Jim.”
Click below for specific interviews from the Jim Kelly Classic: