Jim Kelly couldn't make his own charity event Sunday, as he continues to recover in ECMC from radiation and chemotherapy for cancer.
This is the 28th annual Jim Kelly Celebrity Classic, with last night's gala and today's golf tournament at Terry Hills in Batavia. The gala packed the Adam's mark for food and drink, music and auctions of sports memorabilia. That was everything from signed posters to signed team helmets.
Dan Kelly says the event has raised $5 million over the years. This year's recipient will be Camp Good Days and Special Times, which is struggling to recover from massive damage caused by flooding in Branchport.
ESPN sportscaster Chris Berman attended Sunday night's gala in the Adam's Mark Hotel and spoke fondly of his longtime friend.
"The news is better every week. We're all here like we come every year, but this is different. We came all those years with Hunter, and then Hunter passed away. Everybody showed their love for Jim and Jill and their whole family," Berman said. "He's going to see us, whether he does it with his eyes or not."
Former Bills Quarterback and Erie County Executive Ed Rutkowski says he is continuing the long-time rivalry between his alma mater of Notre Dame and Kelly's of the University of Miami.
"I texted him, asking that Notre Dame, our lady, watch over him, protect him," Rutkowski said. "I [told him] when I was a quarterback, the first thing they told me was forget about throwing touchdown passes, just worry about the first downs and the touchdowns will hit you right in the face. So, I just texted him, saying look at your radiation and chemotherapy treatments as your first downs. You just keep getting those first down, you will be amazed at the results."
Some of his former teammates and some of the athletes in town for the event were able to visit Kelly in the hospital but wife Jill is trying to limit visitors because he needs his rest to recover from his cancer treatments.
"He'll get better," said former Bills receiver Andre Reed, Kelly's favorite target in the Super Bowl years. "If you look at the turnout every year here, what he's done [with] for Kelly For Kids and his foundation, he's done a great job here in this city."