Tom Coughlin Jay Fund gives childhood cancer patients “A day off from cancer”

Jacksonville, FL. — There’s over 300 children battling cancer in our area, according to the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund.

With cancer treatment comes added stress and financial hardships for many families.

Action News Jax Alicia Tarancon reports on how the local non profit’s “Day at the Zoo” is helping those children take their mind off the their cancer diagnosis, giving them a chance to be a kid again.

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On Saturday Olivia Schmidt and her family were spotted enjoying a day out animal watching at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.

“It’s rare that all of us get to do something together so this was a special treat,” Jennifer Schmidt said.

She said that on the day Olivia was born, doctors discovered a rare brain tumor on her pituitary gland.

Weeks later doctors removed the tumor, along with the pea-sized gland.

The Tom Coughlin Jay Fund was able to help this family get through the unthinkable and manage the emotional and financial stress that comes with battling childhood cancer.

“They were actually able to pay our mortgage for probably six months and pay our car payment and so I always like to say a little bit of help changed the trajectory of our future,” she said.

That family joined 75 families at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens for a “day off from cancer.”

It’s a day that children don’t have to worry about doctor’s visits or being in the hospital.

“We also recognize that it’s important for them to connect with other people that relate to what they’re going through and these families really need an opportunity sometimes to build memories together,” Keli Coughlin, the Executive Director of the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund.

Not only do these families get to enjoy seeing the animals but they get a lunch provided to them by the non-profit too.

The Schmidt’s told us Olivia’s tumor hasn’t grown back.

She still goes to her doctor’s visits, gets scans, and takes medications and four-years later the little ballerina-in-training is still thriving.

“She’s doing fantastic, learning all of her alphabet and her numbers,” Jennifer Schmidt said.

Because of COVID-19, the Jay Fund has had to put some of their major fund-raisers on hold.

If you would like to find out how you can help and donate to their cause you can CLICK HERE.