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Buffalo Bills great Jim Kelly keeps up no huddle pace in life

Buffalo Bills great Jim Kelly keeps up no huddle pace in life

06/24/2019
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Story Courtesy of GoErie.com

Buffalo Bills great Jim Kelly seems to have every reason to slow down, relax and take up some hobbies.

After all, the 59-year-old Kelly is a Pro Football Hall of Famer and a three-time cancer survivor.

But slowing down has never been Kelly’s style.

Consider that earlier this month he hosted the 33rd annual Jim Kelly Charity Golf Classic, in Batavia, New York, to support the Kelly for Kids charitable foundation. 

On Wednesday he will be the guest speaker at the Best of Varsity Cup awards dinner at Erie’s Bayfront Convention Center.

The next day he will travel to Williamsville, New York, where he will run his 32nd annual Jim Kelly Football Camp for five days through July 1.

“That’s been my life since I was a little kid,” Kelly said Thursday during a phone interview. “My mother always told me, ‘Son, you need to slow down.’ That was when I was about 12 years old. I’m a guy that never sits down.” 

He likened his life’s pace to the “K-Gun” offense that he ran for 11 seasons in Buffalo.

“That’s why I ran the no-huddle offense, that fast-paced offense. That’s the way my life has always been,” said Kelly, who now lives in Orchard Park, New York.

After his Hall of Fame career that featured four Super Bowl appearances, Kelly has faced more than his fair share of adversity. 

His son Hunter died at the age of 8 in 2005 as a result of Krabbe Disease.

Kelly and his family, including his wife Jill and daughters, Erin and Camryn, started the Hunter’s Hope charity in his son’s memory.

Jim Kelly himself has had three bouts with cancer since 2013, the last coming in 2018.

Meanwhile, he frequently travels to share the story of his battle with cancer to others with cancer or their family members. He speaks to teenagers frequently, but he shares with other age groups, too.

“A little bit of everything. I get the senior citizens, I get the mid-age and I get the kids. I try to hit all of them,” he said. “When you travel and you talk to people and you see people and you hear what they’re going through, you find out after you talk to them how much of a difference it has made on their life.

“And not only from a standpoint of people that are being affected but also the people that are caregivers, the people they surround themselves with, whether it’s immediate family or other relatives. It’s being able to see that what you’re saying is having an impact on people’s lives.”

As for Kelly’s health, “I’m feeling pretty good,” he said.

He still is recovering from the surgeries to remove cancer from both sides of his jaws. His speech has been slightly altered and he has dealt with other side effects.

“I still have a couple more procedures to go through in my mouth, but that’s all part of the rehab, part of the reconstruction,” he said.

Despite his health hardships, he remains upbeat.

“It’s part of my life so I just fight on and keep going,” he said. “I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I have a smile on my face today.”

When he speaks to young people, he tries to encourage them to stay on the right path.

“Being a kid today is totally different from being a kid when I was growing up,” he said. “The thing is to try to be a difference maker, but the bottom line is you are who you hang with. You show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future. Your future’s not very bright if you hang out with the wrong people. Be a difference maker for positive reasons.”

Yes, he has a hectic schedule, but he said he is trying to enjoy leisure time with family and at his lodge, which he calls his “pride and joy.” In fact, he was heading to the lodge immediately after his interview with a reporter Thursday evening.

“I do relax more nowadays than I did in the past,” he said. “It’s still at a pace where most people think I’m crazy but, hey, it’s part of my life.”

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