The Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation Names Recipients of Annual Cancer Survivor Scholarships

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Seven childhood cancer survivors from Florida, New Jersey, and New York prepare for a new challenge – college

Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation

These future college graduates have already proven that they're tough, and now we are honored to BE THERE for them as they chase their dreams . . . .

The Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation is pleased to announce the 2015 recipients of its cancer survivor scholarships, awarded as an inspiration to survivors in order that they may achieve their full potential in life. Seven young men and women were selected and each will receive $1,500, renewable for up to an accumulative $6,000 over four years. To qualify, applicants must be residents of North Florida, South Georgia, the five boroughs of New York City, or Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Passaic and Union counties in New Jersey and have been diagnosed with cancer before the age of 21. Winners are chosen based on leadership ability, academic record, moral character, and financial need.

“For twenty years, The Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation has worked tirelessly to BE THERE for families tackling childhood cancer and these scholarships continue that positive mission,” said Tom Coughlin, Founder of the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation. “I’m so proud of the young men and women who were selected from a competitive group of applicants, and I congratulate them on their achievements. These future college graduates have already proven that they’re tough, and now we are honored to BE THERE for them as they chase their dreams and achieve their academic goals.”

The winners are as follows:

CDR Rick Murray Memorial Scholarship Recipient
Marissa Ierna was diagnosed with Stage 4 Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma in May 2012 - just a few weeks before graduating from Atlantic Coast High School with a 3.98 GPA. Besides undergoing treatment and attending school at the University of North Florida, Ierna has become a passionate spokesperson for others going through the cancer journey. She currently serves as a Nemours Ambassador and spokesperson, and is a member of the Wolfson Dream Coat Society. Ierna is also a board member for Live for Today and this past year became a Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Go Gold Ambassador. She was also recently recognized as a 2014 Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy. Ierna plans to transfer to Florida State University this fall and study Communication and Public Relations. She said in her personal essay, "I could not believe where my journey had led me and I was impressed that, instead of giving in, I had decided to take control of my life and give my diagnosis a bigger purpose and meaning."

Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Scholarship Recipient
Lindsey Mapp was diagnosed with Unilateral Retinoblastoma in May 1997 at 10 months old. Her eye was removed and replaced with a prosthetic. Despite this disability, Mapp has worked to achieve her goals and graduated from Camden County High School with a 3.8 GPA. This fall Mapp will be attending Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College where she plans to study Business Management. Mapp said, "I'm determined to not let barriers stand in my way. I set my goals and I achieve them. I will never surrender but above all else, I will never quit."

Tisch Family Scholarship Recipient
Peter Bernhard was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in 2000 when he was three years old. Bernhard is a senior at Waldwick High School in Waldwick, NJ where he plays on the varsity lacrosse team and the varsity football team. Bernhard will be attending Stockton University in the fall where he plans to major in criminal justice. Bernhard wrote in his essay, “I certainly do not want to think of all the negatives associated with the diagnoses and the treatment. What makes me different now is the attitude I have developed and how I approach each and every day.”

Eltrich Family Scholarship Recipient
Steven Brown was diagnosed with High Risk Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in May 2014. He is a 2014 graduate of Caldwell High School in Caldwell, NJ where he was a member of the National Honor Society and graduated in the top twenty percent of his class. Brown will be attending the University of Michigan where he plans to study biology. He noted in his essay, “Despite all things cancer has taken away from me, the disease, believe it or not, has provided me far more than what it has stolen.” Brown plans to pursue a career in oncology.

Kelly Family Scholarship Recipient
Daniel Poidomani was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoblastic Leukemia in January 2007. Poidomani is a 2015 graduate of Hackensack High School in Hackensack, NY where he graduated with a 4.0 GPA and led the varsity baseball team as its captain. Poidomani will attend Manhattan College in the fall where he plans to study engineering and play baseball. Poidomani stated in his personal essay, “Being able to beat cancer, and survive, instilled in me the ideal of never giving up, no matter what the circumstances.”

The Viniar Family Scholarship Recipient
Sanjay Sherpa was diagnosed with a Stage IV Wilms Tumor in 1999 and Acute Myeloid Leukemia in 2000. Sherpa is a 2015 graduate of Secaucus High School in Secaucus, NJ. At Secaucus High School, Sherpa was on the honor roll from ninth to twelfth grade. He will enter Rutgers University in the fall where he plans to study biology. Sherpa shared in his personal essay, “I was a nightmare turned miracle. All I ever wanted was to be normal. But what was normal? We are all imperfect beings. So I learned to accept my painful past as a gift. I was given a chance to live, and I want to make my life successful.”

New York Football Giants Scholarship Recipient
Samantha Sproviero was diagnosed with Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia in December 2011. Sproviero is a 2013 graduate of Hasbrouck High School in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ where she graduated with a 4.2 GPA. This fall she will begin her Junior year at Ramapo College where she will continue studying history and literature. At Ramapo, Sproviero has made the Dean’s list for three semesters and is a member of the Phi Alpha Theta, History Honor Society. Sproviero noted in her essay, “Even when I was ill, school was a major priority for me – after missing months of high school I realized what a privilege it was to receive an education and what a valuable role it played in my life.”

If you are interested in sponsoring a survivor scholarship or donating to the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation, please visit the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation website to learn more.


About The Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation
The Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation was created in 1996 in honor of Jay McGillis. Jay was a special young man who developed leukemia while a member of Coach Coughlin's team at Boston College. In the eight months between Jay's diagnosis and the day he lost his battle with cancer, the Coughlin family saw first-hand the physical, emotional and financial strains the illness caused the McGillis family. After going through the tragic events with Jay's family, Coach Coughlin vowed that if he ever had the chance, he would create a way to help families with children battling cancer. Coach Coughlin kept his vow and started a foundation to BE THERE in Jay's honor. Since then the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund has evolved in size and scope, helping thousands of families in Northeast Florida and the New York/New Jersey Metropolitan Area who are fighting childhood cancer. For more information, please visit

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