‘Kelly Tough’ Book Signing May 26
By Alicia Dziak
It’s been many years since screaming Buffalo Bills fans filled Rich Stadium cheering for #12, Jim Kelly. And yet, for those who were around in the era when the Bills really made you want to shout, the memories of those days live on.
Jim Kelly—the quarterback who led the Bills to four consecutive Super Bowls in the early 1990s—still seems larger than life to his fans, especially since his recent, very public battle with cancer.
As news of Jim Kelly’s health spread, the social media world was flooded with #prayersforJK, and the entire Kelly family was always behind the scenes and in front of the cameras, leading the charge in the recovery of the football legend. While Jim Kelly is a household name around Western New York and beyond, to his oldest daughter, Erin, “He’s just my dad,” she said during an interview with the Ellicottville Times.
At 20 years old, the young woman who just wrapped up her sophomore year as a digital media major at Liberty University in Virginia speaks with the maturity of someone twice her age. And it’s no wonder—she’s been through more than most 20-year-olds have been through, and her experiences inspired her to write a new book, Kelly Tough, the title of which came from a phrase the family used to describe their never-give-up outlook on life from day one.
“I was in the hotel room in New York City (when my dad was going through cancer treatment) and it was then that I thought about what being ‘Kelly Tough’ really means,” Erin explained. “I started journaling and finding the deeper meaning behind it.” She emphasized that the story was something that she and her mother, Jill, who co-wrote the book, really wanted to share.
“This story is about strength, hope and courage in the midst of weakness,” Erin stated.
Kelly Tough begins in early 2014 when Erin was on a trip with her mother and found out that her father’s cancer had returned. From there, it delves into the past, from Erin’s perspective, of growing up the daughter of a football hall-of-famer, the close relationship she’s had with her dad and other family members, including her younger brother, Hunter, who passed away from a fatal genetic disorder called Krabbe leukodystrophy in 2005, up to the battle her father had with cancer.
“Initially, it was hard to be open to the whole world with our struggle,” Erin said of the widespread social media attention. “But it really helped knowing all these people were praying for us and that they were rallying around us.”
While so much was shared on sites like Twitter, Erin noted that there was still a lot that was kept private, some of which is shared in the book.
At the center of it all, Kelly Tough focuses on how faith got Erin and her family through the difficult times. “We would not be here today without our faith,” she said.
Also included in the book is a 20-page photo spread of Erin’s lifelong journey with her dad. The photos selected for the book include images of Erin growing up with her dad by her side, some photos of her and Hunter, and some of her dad with his Bills teammates who visited him in the hospital.
“I grew up in a family that captured every moment with pictures,” Erin said. “Pictures tell the real story.”
Kelly Tough is a unique book that appeals to a wide age group, and you don’t have to be a football fan to get something out of it. It encourages readers to find their inner strength during difficult times and that “tough” is something to strive for. It’s also great to support a young, local author who makes it a point in her book to give huge props to Buffalo and Western New York.
“To all the Bills fans—we are your family and you are ours,” Erin said. “We love you and will never forget your support and how you’ve rallied around us.”
She also added that she’s looking forward to the upcoming football season. “I have a feeling the Bills are going to the playoffs!” she said.
Get your copy of Kelly Tough and mark your calendar for Tuesday, May 26, at 6 p.m., when Erin will be hosting a launch party/book signing at Barnes & Noble at McKinley Mall in Blasdell. It’s a great opportunity to meet this inspiring young woman and purchase a fantastic addition to your home library.
For more information, visit www.erinmkelly.com.