September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month – and a charity dedicated to fighting the disease uses music to empower and inspire young patients.
The Tom Coughlin Jay Fund, the organization founded by Coughlin, the two-time Super Bowl winning coach for the New York Giants, brought young patients and survivors together with celebrities and athletes. The result? A series of playlists that reflect an eclectic mix of musical tastes and speak of the healing power of music.
The playlists will be available on Amazon Music Unlimited throughout September. Celebrities attending include Today co-hosts Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager, two-time US women’s world championship coach Jill Ellis, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Office actor Craig Robinson, Grammy-winning duo The Chainsmokers, and two of Coughlin’s former players – Kevin Boothe and Mark Herzlich, the latter of whom is a cancer survivor.
(Nice, inspiring videos by Kotb and Bush with cancer survivor Camilla can be viewed at the end of this article.)
“I’m so grateful that so many celebrities and athletes took the time to create these playlists with our cancer patients and cancer survivors,” said Coughlin, whose New York Giants beat the New England Patriots and the 2007 and 2011 Super seasons Bowl won. “Nobody fights cancer alone; it takes a team, and I want to thank Amazon Music and everyone involved for being part of us.”
Hoda Kotb, Jenna Hager
Jenna Bush Hager (L) and Hoda Kotb
Christopher Patey / Getty
Christopher Patey / Getty Craig Robinson
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According to the CDC, around 15,000 people under the age of 20 develop cancer every year, that’s around 43 a day. Cancer does not discriminate. Its effects are being felt in every community in the United States, leaving a devastating emotional and financial toll on families struggling with the disease.
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To meet that need, in 1996 Coughlin formed the Jay Fund – named after a player he coached at Boston College, Jay McGillis, who died of leukemia at the age of 21 – and he decided to do something about it.
Courtesy of Boston College Tom Coughlin and Jay McGillis
Since its inception, the Jay Fund has helped more than 5,000 families of young people fight cancer and provided more than $ 15 million in aid.
In a 2019 interview with PEOPLE, citing the National Children’s Cancer Society, Coughlin said that dealing with childhood cancer costs families an average of $ 833,000, considering medical costs and lost wages. “Can you imagine how a normal family can handle it?” he said.
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The inspiration for the playlists comes from research showing that music can reduce stress and anxiety by positively changing people’s moods. Music therapy is a proven technique for increasing the emotional well-being of cancer patients.
“Music helps patients connect socially, emotionally, and with other patients,” said Lee Russeth, MS, CCLS, Senior Child Life Specialist at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey, in a press release.
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Russeth added, “In an environment where patients often have few choices, they can choose which instrument to play, sing, dance or just sit back and listen to music. You can freely express your emotions while relieving your pain, it’s so important to remember, music is fun too! It is the normalizing factor that will help them get through their treatment. “
For more information or to learn more about the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation, visit tcjayfund.org and follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.