Kelly Gang hits pause on 2021 St. Patrick’s Day fundraiser after raising $65K in 2020

Kelly Gang hits pause on 2021 St. Patrick’s Day fundraiser after raising $65K in 2020

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The Kelly Gang, the charity organization started by media figures who share the same surname, hit pause on its 2021 St. Patrick’s Day fundraiser but plans to return in force in 2022.

The event, which counts former top cop Ray Kelly as a co-founder and honorary chairman, has emerged as a media event over the years attracting everyone from former Mayor Mike Bloomberg, talk show host Megyn Kelly, Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly, astronaut Scott Kelly and his twin brother, who is now newly elected US Sen. Mark Kelly, and current Newsmax and WABC radio host Greg Kelly.

Future President Donald Trump even dropped by the first year after arranging to fly the family of late journalist Michael Kelly down from Boston on his private jet.

Over the years, entertainers from author and raconteur Malachy McCourt to Lord of the Dance founder Michael Flatley and the late author Mary Higgins Clark after her turn as NYC St. Patrick’s Day parade grand marshal in 2011, have dropped in for some corned beef and cabbage at Michael’s Restaurant. And this author is a co-founder.

“We always said everyone is a Kelly at our event,” said president Ed Kelly, a former CEO of American Express Publishing. “While the event is run by the Kellys — with generous support from Rubenstein public relations — it is always open to all.”

Since its first fundraising event in 2004 — to raise money for the children of journalist Michael Kelly, the first American journalist killed in the Iraq War in 2003 — the organization has raised over $1.1 million for a variety of charities, from the Breezy Point Disaster Relief Fund to the Hunter’s Hope Foundation, a charity founded by Buffalo Bills HOF quarterback Jim Kelly.

Last year, the charity’s fundraising drive was underway to raise funds for End Sepsis, the Legacy of Rory Staunton charitable group, when the pandemic forced the cancellation of the in-person event at Michael’s Restaurant. But not one sponsor asked for a refund.

Rory Staunton was a youngster from Queens who scraped his elbow during gym and due to medical errors was misdiagnosed as suffering the flu. Days later, it was discovered to be sepsis but the diagnosis came too late for treatment and he died three days later on April 1, 2012 — a month short of his 13th birthday.

His heartbroken father, pubkeeper Ciaran Staunton, and mother, Orlaith Staunton, started the foundation in his honor and began a nationwide movement that pushed for early detection of sepsis. Each year 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with sepsis and 270,000 die. With early detection, most of the deaths are entirely preventable, the Staunton family said.

In an ironic twist, Kelly Gang president Ed Kelly was diagnosed with sepsis himself in March 2020. Thanks to early detection, he fully recovered after treatment with antibiotics.

“Despite the unprecedented challenges we faced as a community and organization, thanks to the generous contributions from our sponsors and friends we raised $65,000 for End Sepsis, the Legacy of Rory Staunton,” said Ed Kelly.

“As we looked ahead, we decided to push the pause button in 2021, and position ourselves for a return in 2022,” said Ed Kelly. “Our St. Patrick’s Day celebration allows us to come together to celebrate good citizenship and remind us that we are part of a powerful community.

“We look forward to the next time we can gather to raise funds for those who need it most,” said Ed Kelly. “Stay safe and well.”​

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