Jim Kelly and his family have a special place in the hearts of all Western New Yorkers.
That is especially true at Christian Central Academy, the tiny private school in Williamsville known as CCA where the Buffalo Bills’ Hall of Fame quarterback’s daughter, Camryn, is a freshman, where his oldest daughter, Erin, is an alumna and where his wife, Jill, is on the school’s board of directors.
With so many ties to Jim Kelly, it’s easy to understand why Christian Central brass came up with another way to show their support for Kelly in his fight against jaw/sinus cancer.
The Christian Central baseball and softball teams will wear special blue caps with the No. 12 on the front and with the words on the side “#prayersforJK” for the remainder of their respective seasons.
Kelly believes in the healing power of prayer, as #prayersforJK has been trending on Twitter ever since Kelly announced the cancer he thought had been eradicated from his body last year had returned in March.
Both teams showed off their hats for the first time Wednesday during games against Cardinal O’Hara (baseball) and Sacred Heart (softball) at the Lou Gehrig Baseball and Softball Complex.
The unveiling was part of two ceremonies in which Kelly’s brother, Dan, was on hand to lead all the teams in a public prayer near home plate before the start of each game.
During each prayer, Dan Kelly asked God to protect/look over the children on the field, help the sick get rid of any pain they’re experiencing and asked the Man Upstairs to eradicate the cancer from his brother Jim so that he could serve as a symbol of hope to others in their respective cancer fights.
“They are part of the Christian Central family, so we just want to rally around them,” said Christian Central Assistant Athletic Director Tom Ranallo.
“He believes in the power of prayer. We want to show our support and we will continue to pray. It will be a season-long commitment.”
Neither Jim Kelly nor his wife or children were able to attend the gathering, but Dan Kelly said his brother had a big smile on his face when he learned about the cap ceremony.
“It’s really nice to see him smiling,” said Dan, who added Jim returned home Tuesday after a brief visit to ECMC due to weakness and dehydration from all the chemotherapy/radiation treatments he has endured.
“CCA really has a special place in the Kelly family heart … It’s nice to see that support. It’s a great school.”
Ranallo, who is a Kelly family friend, another family friend Bob Nusall and AdPro Sports’ Ron Raccuia came up with the idea for the hats with the Kelly family’s blessing.
While the CCA teams will wear them as a show of support for Jim Kelly, those wanting to purchase caps can do so at http://adprosports.myshopify.com/collections/prayersforjk.
Caps cost $15 (not including shipping) and can be purchased online. “It’s just another vehicle to go out there and spread awareness,” Dan Kelly said.
“Prayers are very important in everybody’s lives. … It’s another way to raise money for the Hunter’s Hope Foundation and I think it’s just a great, great cause.”