ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) — Jim Kelly is a hall-of-fame quarterback who led the Buffalo Bills to four straight Super Bowls in the 90’s. Back in 1987 he started a football camp and hoped to one day fulfill a personal dream.
“Of course my dreams were to be able to coach my own son at my own camp but unfortunately we all know what happened there,” Kelly said.
Kelly’s son Hunter died from Krabbe Disease in 2005. While he was not able to coach his own son, he’s guided thousands of children through his camp, which this year, in its 28th year, hosts more than 600 campers.
“It makes me feel good because they understand it is not always about football,” Kelly explained. “We talk about life too.”
On Tuesday Kelly had more to be happy about than just the longevity of his camp and its impact on those who have attended. Last year at the camp, Kelly was weak and clearly not feeling well, as he was still recovering from cancer treatments for his battle with cancer. On Tuesday morning he appeared stronger, healthier and more energized than one year ago.
“My arm feels pretty good. I finally gained some weight.” Kelly added. “Last year I was doing it because I wanted to do it but I really couldn’t do it. This year I want to do it and I can do it. “
As he coaches children about the game, he also stresses important lessons that carry over into various aspects of a child’s life.
“In today’s society and even in sports now it is all about character. Of course you have to have the athletic ability but when you have the character to back it up that’s what it is about,” Kelly said.
Unfortunately, Kelly was unable to fulfill his dream of coaching his own son at his camp. However, he has been able to discover a clear passion for sharing the game and the lessons that go along with it with thousands and thousands of young athletes.
“I want to continue to do this forever,” Kelly said. “As long as I can continue to go out there and be a part of it I will do it.”