Family remembers lost son on 'Remembrance Weekend'

It's a club no parents wants to join, losing a child to cancer. That's reality for 30 First Coast families who are coming together this weekend for Remembrance Weekend. It's hosted by the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund and for families like the Mallari's it a huge step in the healing process.

It's been three years since 12-year-old Mark Charipar lost his battle to cancer, and not a day goes by that his parents don't think about their only child.

"Everything reminds you of him. It doesn't matter where you drive or where you shop you always look back and say oh he would really like that," said his mother, Tracey Mallari.

She and Ray Mallari share a special bond with the families who gathered together Friday night to take part in the Jay Fund's Remembrance Weekend. It's the Mallari's third year participating.

"We are on our own island and everyone here speaks the same language. Everybody knows what you are feeling. Everybody knows what you have gone through," explained Tracey.

"Unlike talking to your friends, they understand, but they have never been there. So with these families thanks to the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund we are able to talk and they all relate, unfortunately, but it's a good thing for families like us," said Ray.

Former Jaguars Coach Tom Coughlin started the Jay Fund to help families tackle childhood cancer by providing financial, emotional and practical support.

"Once mark got sick the Jay Fund stepped in and started helping with little things like co-pays, and now it's three years later and they are still helping us," said Tracey.

Tom Coughlin says all of things his foundation does, this is one of the most significant.

"Once they get here they tell us how significant it is to them because they bring their other children, the siblings, the dad and mom have a chance to visit with other families who have gone through the exact same thing and in that way there is some type of healing that takes place," said Coughlin.

A weekend of healing and learning how to cope, and for the Mallaris, it's about keeping their son's memory alive.

"Once a year we get to just remember, and it's not always sad. It has its sad times but it's remembers, so it's joyous thing. It's mixed emotions, but it feels good every year."

For more on the Jay Fund, visit HERE


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