The Jets hosted the fifth annual Long Island Walk With Us to Cure Lupus to support the Alliance for Lupus Research this past weekend. They not only got a great turnout but early projections have them raising $275,000 for the ALR.
"I think Jets fans are always great when we ask them to pitch in and help out with different community service efforts that we have," said Jets head coach Eric Mangini. "They are great fans, they are great people, and they care about a good cause and the other people in the community."
They came out in droves Sunday despite an early June heat wave. Jets owner Woody Johnson, who is also the ALR founder and chairman, has helped bring national attention to a disease that was neglected for too long.
"There hadn't been a new drug for lupus in the last 40 years. Now as a result of what we've been doing with the Alliance of Lupus Research, we have 12 drugs," Johnson said. "So we're making amazing progress."
Johnson was joined at the New York Institute for Technology–Old Westbury by Mangini and general manager Mike Tannenbaum, who served as honorary chairs with their wives, Julie and Michelle. The Green & White also had a number of current players and alums on hand for the 5K (3.1-mile) event, which included refreshments, entertainment and Generation Jets Fest.
"It's a great tradition, it's a great event. It's a great tribute to Woody," said Mr. T. "This has been a charity he's been involved in now for almost 10 years and as a Jets organization, we've been a big part in it. The players come out and the staff comes out. It's a great day and we all look forward to it."
Johnson was humbled by the turnout. While the Jets are excited about their move to a state-of-the-art complex in New Jersey, their roots will forever remain on Long Island.
"There is nobody better than Jets fans, particularly Long Island Jets fans because this is where the Jets were created," Johnson said. "They supported the Jets for all these years through thick and thin. Last year it was thin. Hopefully this year it will be thick. To come out now and support lupus research, which is important to the Jets, shows their loyalty and the great people they really are."
The ALR board of directors pays for all fundraising and administrative costs, so all proceeds go directly to the medical drive.
"One of the things that I like about this organization in particular," Tannenbaum said, "is that Woody Johnson and the rest of the board take care of all the administrative expenses, so all the donations go right to researching any cure we can find for lupus."
In addition to the money raised, the walks have helped Johnson and the Jets bring awareness to the disease.
"It's a demonstration to people why it's important to cure lupus," Johnson said. "The more people we get on these walks demonstrates to the greater public that lupus is worth doing something about."