Irish Coach’s Big Heart
by Keith Kelly
When Notre Dame’s football coach, Brian Kelly, paid a visit to Breezy Point, Queens, in the days before St. Patrick’s Day, the ravages of Hurricane Sandy got his “Fightin’ Irish” up.
And now he’s fighting to get the largely Irish working-class neighborhood back on its feet.
The coach pledged money from his own Indiana-based charity, the Kelly Cares Foundation, toward the $250,000 needed to rebuild the Catholic Club, a popular community center devastated by flood and fire.
“We’re committed to assisting the Catholic Club,” Coach Kelly said after the Wednesday tour. “From our standpoint, we want to be able to get that project completed
Residents said the gift was fitting.
“There are probably more Notre Dame fans in Breezy Point than in South Bend,” said John Kelly, who is the freshman football coach of Xavier HS in Manhattan.
In 2013, after three years of trying to make it happen, we finally were able to get Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly to agree to come to the Kelly Gang St. Patrick’s Day fundraiser. We pledged to raise $65,000 for his charity, The Kelly Cares Foundation.
After Brian made a guest appearance with Kelly Gang members on Morning Joe and Greg Kelly's Good Day New York show on Fox 5, we arranged to have the coach tour Breezy Point, the so-called "Irish Riviera" on the Rockaway Peninsula which had been particularly hard hit by the storm. Over 100 homes had burned to the ground. After the tour, Brian Kelly was so moved he pledged to rebuild a local community hub known as the Catholic Club which was under 6 feet of water and sustained extensive damage. his organization eventually contributed over $210,000 to the rebuilding effort, supported by the $65,000 we gave him and the additional $7,500 we gave directly to the Breezy Point Disaster Relief Fund.