As the 6-foot-2, 305-pound frame of Cullen Jenkins graced the players entrance at Engineers Country Club in Roslyn on Nov. 16, a group of young Giants fans swarmed a nearby door down the hall, Sharpies in hand, ready for a chance to meet the defensive end.
As promised, fans of all ages would have the opportunity to meet, take photos, get autographs, play video games and watch Monday Night Football with members of the Jets and Giants in order to support sick and disadvantaged children in the community.
This year’s “Monday Night Party” brought in more than $100,000, according to Roslyn resident Joel Levine, who has staged the event for the last five years. The benefits went toward three different organizations, including the The Family Center For Autism in Garden City, The Quinton Coples Foundation and the Reach For The Stars Foundation.
Jets linebacker Coples is a repeat attendee of the event, as his foundation is committed to developing educational and recreational programs for young people and their families in his hometown of Kinston, NC as well as the tri-state area.
“It’s just a good opportunity to get out and meet some kids with autism and also interact with some kids that are born in unfortunate situations and raise money and awareness for the situation,” said Coples. “It’s probably the only time you’re going to see Jets and Giants together collectively, is through charity work, but I had a great time and [it was] an awesome experience for the kids.”
Two of those kids were Maclain Mawhinney, a teenager with autism who thanked The Family Center For Autism—a Life’s WORC affiliate that offers therapeutic, educational, social and recreational services for autistic children and their families—along with his brother Maui who labeled Maclain an “unsung hero.”
Another hero recognized Monday night was Ellie Levy, the daughter of Jenkins’ agent Brian Levy, who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis as a baby and passed away last November.
“People say that Ellie lost her battle with cystic fibrosis,” said Levy, “And I would say that anybody who knows Ellie knows she never lost a battle in her life.”
Levy, along with Levine who has two children with autism, spoke about the charities so close to their hearts to a room full of hundreds of supports. Then it was time to announce the raffle and silent auction winners of various Jets and Giants memorabilia, helping raise even more money for the great causes in which the night belonged to.
“I know for my agent Brian Levy, the Reach for the Stars foundation is big for him,” said Jenkins. “We’ve had a long relationship with him and his family so I know [this event] means everything for him, so we had to come out and support him.”
Jets’ Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, Damon Harrison and Jaiquawn Jarrett came out to support teammate Coples, while Giants stars Jason Pierre-Paul and Rashad Jennings donated time for Levy and Jenkins. Former Jets Jay Fiedler and Chad Cascadden were also in attendance.
“I’d consider tonight a huge success,” Levine said. “Everybody was happy, we made a tremendous amount of money for three phenomenal causes and organizations, so it was beyond my wildest dreams.”