In 1996, New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin created the Jay Fund Foundation: a program named in memory of Jay McGillis, a former player of his at Boston College, who developed leukemia. Coughlin was inspired by the amazing faith and astounding courage of Jay and his family, and after Jay lost his battle with cancer, Coughlin dedicated himself to helping other families going through a similar situation in any way that he could. The Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation provides emotional and financial support to children with cancer and their families, in order to help guide them through the devastating diagnosis. The foundation allows families to focus on what matters most: the health of the child. And, as a team, they work together to help tackle childhood cancer. READ: How to Overcome Adversity Like a Super Bowl Champ On Friday, Cipriani in midtown Manhattan hosted the Jay Fund Foundation's 9th annual Champions for Children Gala, an evening featuring Big Blue players, a formal fundraising dinner, and silent and live auctions to raise money for the cause. “There’s just something extra special about a charity that helps families who have children with life-threatening illnesses. It’s hard to find a more compelling case than that,” said John K. Mara, president and CEO of the Giants, who was one of the night's honorees for his leadership and contributions. “What these families have to deal with is just unimaginable to most of us. I think the message that this organization — and all of us — try to give them is that we are here for them. Here to help in any way that we can, “ Mara said. And that's what the Jay Fund has been doing for years. The current and former Giants players in attendance wouldn't want it any other way, and they were equally honored to be associated with the foundation. “Coach Coughlin is doing a great deal and we’re so happy that we can help out,” said quarterback Eli Manning. “We know these families are dealing with a tough time, and we want them know we’re here for them; to stay strong and hopefully we can get through it. “ READ: Examine Yourself for Skin Cancer in 6 Simple Steps And while the players walked down the "blue carpet" to the main event, for them, the real stars were the children. “I think these kids are some of the more resilient kids that you'll see in the world,” said defensive end Justin Tuck. “I tell them to never give up. There are so many people out there that are going to support you, that are rooting for you. “We understand these kids look up to us. They feel better when we’re playing better and can say a kind word to them. That's the easy thing for us to do,” Tuck said. “You'd be a cold-hearted person if you couldn't take a little time out of your busy schedule to make a difference.” And by surpassing their projected 1 million dollar fundraising mark, that little bit of time is making a world of difference. Scroll down to check out pictures from the Champions for Children Gala.