Last night, former Patriot and cancer survivor Joe Andruzzi and his wife Jennifer hosted their 10th Annual Gratitude Gala. Jenny Dell of CBS Sports was the emcee for the evening, with hundreds in attendance to support the Joe Andruzzi Foundation (JAF). Andruzzi and his wife started the foundation after Joe’s battle with cancer in 2008. It aims to help cancer patients and their families with the financial strains that come with the dreaded diagnosis. They also organize UpBeat Outings, with a goal is to spread positivity through fun and memorable experiences. Outings have included a circus trip and attending Patriots training camp to meet current players.
Paying It Forward
The foundation has raised $5 million dollars since its launch in 2008 — a major accomplishment. When I asked Joe if he imagined this level of success, he said: “No, but we knew there was a big need for the work that we do and to be out there to get the support from many people throughout the communities is truly rewarding.” I also asked if he had an event or outing that has been most memorable. His response: “They’re all great. I think what sticks out to me a lot of times are the shocking moments of visiting the hospital, and getting hugs from strangers with tears in their eyes…” He followed this up with a story about being approached at a gas station by an individual who received help through his foundation. It startled him, but he is always grateful to meet the people he has positively affected.
Where Do the Funds Come From?
The foundation hosts events throughout the year to raise funds. Monday night, they auctioned off items including a Xander Bogaerts jersey, dinner/tickets for a Celtics game and a signed Andruzzi jersey. In the past, they have also hosted annual golf tournaments, as well as a comedy night featuring comic Lenny Clarke. If you thought that was it, think again. In addition, JAF has consistently participated in the Boston Marathon and the Falmouth Road Race. I spoke with Jen Andruzzi about her running the Boston Marathon this past April. She said she really enjoyed it and loves running with her team members. We agreed that motivation from peers can make it all worthwhile!
It was a wonderful night with familiar faces. Matt Chatham made an appearance. His wife Erin is VP of finance and operations for the foundation. Retired linebacker Rob Ninkovich came to show his support, as well as current center David Andrews. Nate Solder also made an appearance, as he usually does. He represented JAF and the Jimmy Fund on Sunday for My Cleats My Cause. As a cancer survivor himself and with a young son going through a battle of his own, Solder obviously holds a special place in his heart for JAF.
The foundation raised a record-breaking $1.1 million with the help and support of the community last night. This foundation does great things and I wish them nothing but continued success. Congratulations to the Andruzzi family and to Joe on his 10th cancer-free year!
Visit joeandruzzifoundation.org to learn how you can help make a difference today.