A Truly ‘Unstoppable’ 14th Annual JAF Gala Raises More Than $565,000 In Support Of New England Cancer Patients

If ‘Unstoppable’ was the theme for the 14th Annual Joe Andruzzi Foundation Gala, then the festivities of the 2021 edition certainly lived up to the billing on Thursday, October 21.

Even though the Foundation made the difficult but necessary decision to switch this year’s gala from an in-person to entirely virtual format for the second consecutive year, attendees and JAF supporters showed just how ‘unstoppable’ they truly were, raising more than $565,000 to help nearly 1,000  patients living with cancer and their families throughout New England.

Thank you to J. Derenzo Companies, Granite Telecommunications, CVS Health, Bob’s Discount Furniture, Kathy Corsi and Mark Cosby, The Remondi Family, Zudy, Bimbo Bakeries, Oncopeptides, Pharmacyclics, and so many others for sponsoring this year’s event. We are so thankful for everyone who supported the gala and attended a night full of fun, laughs, music, fabulous auction items, and inspirational stories.

Before the gala began, Nick “Fitzy” Stevens of WEEI hosted our pre-show party for VIP guests. There, they chatted with celebrity such as Patriots players Brandon Bolden, Lawrence Guy, and David Andrews, strongman Rob Kearney, Jared Haibon and his wife Ashley, of ABC’s The Bachelor, and former NWHL player turned scout Blake Bolden. Our VIP guests enjoyed items from their swag box – sponsored by OrderMyOil.com and Webster Bank – to celebrate the evening. Thank you to Well Told Design and Veronica’s Treats for contributing some special items to this year’s box!

The program kicked off by streaming live from the Cross Insurance Pavilion at Gillette Stadium with host Bob Socci, the radio voice of the Patriots on 98.5 The Sports Hub. On stage, he joined Jen and Joe to highlight many of the Foundation’s accomplishments over the last year. They got things started by cheers-ing with the evening’s signature cocktail, the Cran-druzzi Mule thanks to some help from our friends at Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse at Patriot Place.

JAF also honored the Foundation’s Game Changer Award winners – Jack and Judi Remondi, Dawn DeLuca, Frank Rispoli, Mike Lombardo and GlideFast Consulting, and Stop & Shop Supermarkets – for helping the Foundation make significant advancements in its mission over the last year.

Later in the evening, attendees heard from Julio Mendez, a Shutesbury, Mass. resident and veteran who was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer in July 2020 and was a patient of JAF’s Food Security Pilot Program launched later that year.

“Having cancer and having to pay bills on a regular basis, these are all very difficult things. Even with decent insurance, these are still super costly expenses,” Julio said. “The financial assistance is definitely helpful, and it helps many people. The fact that the Joe Andruzzi Foundation is out there, that’s really important – having an organization that can go ahead and actually pierce through whatever comes out in front of us, and then still being able to touch the lives of the individuals that need to be touched the most.”

Julio wasn’t the only inspirational story of the night. Attendees watched a video of Carly – a pediatric grant recipient, avid hockey player, and friend of Joe’s who had a very memorable appearance at our 2019 Gala.

Joe caught up with Carly and her mother to check in on Carly’s progress and where her journey has led since the 2019 Gala. Then, Carly was joined on the ice by Mallory Souliotis of The Boston Pride to pepper Joe in net.

A three-time Super Bowl champion offensive lineman in between the pipes is, well, quite a sight to see, huh?

To close out the evening, Boston area singer Louie Bello performed his song “Rescue Me,” and even got Jen and Joe to step up to the mic!

JAF would like to thank The Castle Group, 5Tool Productions, Blue Sky Entertainment, Belfort Group, and Arlene Smith Marketing for collaborating with the Foundation to make this year’s gala another top-notch production. We’re also sending out gratitude to this year’s Gala Host Committee, including Chris and Kim Coghlin, Andy and Gisele Ellis, Ted and Maureen English, Mike and Linda Fernando, Eric and Melissa Kagan, Jack and Judi Remondi, and Peter and Dina Zampine. And, as always, thank you to the Kraft Family, Cross Insurance and Gillette Stadium for allowing us to host our event in their first-class facilities.

Even though we couldn’t gather together in-person this year to celebrate and honor the champions of the New England cancer community, the dedication of our supporters was the ‘Unstoppable’ force powering us through the evening, no matter where they were watching. So, a heartfelt THANK YOU goes out to all involved in making this year’s gala a success for the 14th year in a row.

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