60 3 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Expenses increase and so does financial uncertainty. That's why the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund is here to help. The Jay Fund was created in 1996 in honor of Jay McGillis, who developed leukemia while a member of Coach Coughlin's team at Boston College. Hundreds of families have been helped by the Jay Fund.

In early 2011, Heidi Brown and Kathy Devine did not know each other. Brown's 17- year-old daughter Meagan brought them together. "It all happened pretty quick and she just got sicker every single day," said Brown. Meagan was diagnosed with an auto immune disease, needed more than 70 blood transfusions and received chemotherapy. "I went about the first year of Meagan being sick trying to hold it together and really for about the first year we didn't even care about money."

Hospital bills as well as day-to-day expenses were piling up. That's when Brown, a single mother of three, turned to the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund for help. The Jay Fund paid Heidi's electric bills for a few months and the CPA Kathy Devine, also gave Brown the long term financial help she needed.

"The financial literacy program is really to help them in the long term. It not only gives them a fish but to teach them how to fish," said Devine. The two met at Panera Restaurant for their informal financial classes. The counseling sessions made all the difference. "Kathy taught me how to set a budget, how to stick to financial goals and how to have long term financial goals."

Now, almost three years later, Meagan is doing much better. She graduated from high school with honors, voted for the first time a few years back and is now a sophomore at Florida State University. Mom, Kathy is also doing much better financially, she's out of debt and is back on her feet all thanks to the Jay Fund. "I can't thank her enough. She knows I keep in contact with her and email her questions about my finances. I always give her updates on my kids and she not only cared about Meagan, she cared about my entire family, so I can't thank her enough."

Brown said she couldn't afford a gift for Meagan's 18th birthday, so the Jay Fund stepped in to help. Meagan got a nice camera and took some beautiful pictures, Megan's mom says that camera gave Meagan a way to see the world through a different lens. You can learn more about the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund by visiting its website.

Read or Share this story: http://www.firstcoastnews.com/story/news/health/cancer/2014/04/14/cancer-jay-fund/7691835/