Jim Kelly

Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Kelly was the guest speaker at a recent FCA banquet.

The South Central Missouri Fellowship of Christian Athletes hosted a dinner banquet on the evening of Tuesday, April 11, at Chateau on the Lake in Branson.

The banquet featured guest emcees Ethan and Sara Forhetz, known for their careers in journalism and currently for their work with Convoy of Hope. During the banquet, awards were given for 2023 Coach of the Year, Female Athlete, and Male Athlete. 

The Coach of the Year Award was presented to Huddle Coach at Mansfield Middle School, Tiffany Gray. The Female Athlete Award was given to Dora High School athlete, Autumn Nold and the Male Athlete Award went to Ava High School’s Jeremiah Blakely. Each of the award winners spoke briefly about the impact their faith has had in their lives.

The featured speaker of the evening was NFL Hall of Fame Quarterback Jim Kelly, who played for the Buffalo Bills during his professional football career. KOLR 10 Anchor Steve Savard served as guest moderator during the Q&A with Kelly.

During the evening, Kelly spoke about some of the hardships he’s experienced throughout his life, including the death of his son Hunter at the age of 8, who was diagnosed with Krabbe Leukodystrophy, an inherited fatal nervous system disease, and four personal bouts with cancer. He said God is the reason he has made it through the most difficult times. 

“My life has been rough. It’s a roller coaster ride, and has been since I was young,” Kelly said. “I did run from God at the beginning but I realized later on in life that I need God because I wouldn’t be standing here today.”

At the end of his address, Kelly left attendees with a short, but powerful final remark.

“I might have lost four Super Bowls, but I kicked cancer’s ass four times!”

The banquet ended with Kelly asking the crowd a series of trivia questions related to the NFL and Buffalo Bills. If the participant correctly answered the question, Kelly threw an autographed football to them. One of the final footballs of the evening was reserved for a woman in the crowd who shared a Valentines Day birthday with him; a tradition Kelly has continued through his speaking events around the United States.

Kelly created a foundation in 1997 called Hunter’s Hope, named after his son. According to the foundation’s website, the Kelly family became aware of other families dealing with the same devastating news. With their newfound knowledge of the disease, God ignited a spark of hope in their hearts to help those families. To learn more about the Hunter’s Hope Foundation, visit www.huntershope.org.

To learn more about the South Central Missouri Fellowship of Christian Athletes or to get involved, visit www.socentralmofca.org or their Facebook page. 

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