The Kelly Cares Foundation Honored the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, NBC News Correspondent Anne Thompson, and Peter Schivarelli, Manager of the Band Chicago, at its Irish Eyes Gala

Jon Bon Jovi and his wife Dorothea accepted the inaugural “Spirit of Giving Award” on behalf of the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation and its work to combat hunger and homelessness. Anne Thompson, a member of the Board of Trustees at Notre Dame, received the “Leadership in Education Award” for her hard-hitting, global environmental reporting. Peter Schivarelli received the “Leadership in Health Award” for helping to raise more than a quarter million dollars for the American Cancer Society in honor of Paqui Kelly, as well as raising more than a million dollars for the Ara Parseghian (of Notre Dame) Foundation by Chicago donating a portion of ticket sales for the last 19 years.

Notre Dame Coach Brian Kelly & His Wife Paqui of The Kelly Cares Foundation Honored the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation at the Irish Eyes Gala

Photo: Jon Bon Jovi accepts the “Spirit of Giving Award” on behalf of the JBJ Soul Foundation from Coach Brian Kelly and his wife Paqui of the Kelly Cares Foundation. (AP)

The Irish Eyes Gala is the Kelly Cares Foundation’s signature event. It celebrates the generosity that serves as a catalyst for immediate, positive change in so many lives. Paqui Kelly is a two-time breast cancer survivor, which inspired them to create The Kelly Cares Foundation.

“I salute tonight’s honorees for their service to their communities, and for making such a positive difference in the world,” said Brian Kelly. “Jon, Dorothea, Anne, and Peter continue to inspire so many of us here and around the world. I want to thank each of you for your generosity, and I wish you continued success as you impact lives in such a meaningful way.”

A check in the amount of $20,014.00 was presented by the Kelly Cares Foundation to the Special Olympics USA in honor of this summer’s Games taking place in New Jersey. Marc Edenzon, CEO and President of Special Olympics New Jersey, and Robert “Bobby” Fredericks, Special Olympics New Jersey athlete and 2014 USA Games participant, accepted the check on behalf of the Games.

“We are so fortunate to be together to honor Jon, Dorothea, Anne, and Peter for their wonderful work,” said Paqui Kelly. “It is also very exciting to support the Special Olympics taking place in New Jersey this summer. As you know, passion for sports runs deep in our family. We are looking forward to great competitions, and great sportsmanship.”

“Accepting the ‘Spirit of Giving Award’ on behalf of the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation is an honor,” said Jon Bon Jovi. “We are proud to support Coach Brian Kelly and his amazing wife Paqui in their efforts to make a difference in their community through the Kelly Cares Foundation, as well as through all the lives they touch along their journey.”

Anne Thompson said, “The Kelly Cares Foundation is a triple threat in the fight to end cancer. Its focus on health, education and community provides much needed help to those facing this daunting challenge. As a cancer survivor, I am humbled to be honored and proud to help rid the world of this disease.”

“Never did I think I would receive an honor as prestigious as this one, presented by the Kelly Cares Foundation, headed by Brian Kelly, an amazing man and great football coach,” said Peter Schivarelli.

Rev. Bill Dowd, the official chaplain of the New York Giants, opened the program by leading the invocation. Tom Rinaldi, ESPN Commentator, and Jack Nolan, the Voice of the Fighting Irish, served as the evening’s Masters of Ceremonies. The night’s entertainment was provided by Notre Dame Glee Club’s Undertones.

Additional attendees included: Bill Belichick, head football coach of the New England Patriots; Congressman Peter King (R-L.I.), Ray Kelly, and NBC’s Andrea Mitchell.

The Kelly Cares Foundation, now in its fifth year, was founded with the objective of supporting organizations, initiatives and programs that closely align with the goals and values of the Kelly family in the three pillars of Health, Education, and Community. The Foundation is establishing itself as a “Playbook for Hope” in the local community and beyond as it seeks to provide direct and immediate assistance for as many people as possible.

Since its founding in 2008, the Kelly Cares Foundation has donated over $1.3 million to support causes locally, nationally and globally. Organizations that have received contributions from the Kelly Cares Foundation include the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, South Bend Center for the Homeless, Breezy Point Disaster Relief Fund and the Notre Dame Hesburgh Library.