Paqi and Brian KellyPaqui and Brian Kelly are passionate about supporting educational, heath care and community initiatives through the Kelly Cares Foundation. That’s why they chose to support the renovation of Bethel’s largest lecture hall on campus, which will primarily be used as a classroom for nursing and science lectures.

Formerly referred to as the Octorium, due to its octagonal shape, the Paqui and Brian Kelly Auditorium is located down the hall from the nursing simulation lab and is on the same floor as the science labs. The space is now ADA compliant and highlights include new seating, flooring and a larger backstage and storage area. In addition to serving as a classroom, it will also be used for small theatre productions.

“Education and healthcare are issues that are very important to us personally and are critical pillars of our mission at the Kelly Cares Foundation,” Paqui Kelly says. “Being able to support the new nursing school [facility] at Bethel College is the perfect alignment of interests and we are very pleased to have this opportunity. The Bethel nursing program is a great community asset.”

A view from the stage of the newly renovated Kelly Auditorium.

The inspiration for the Kelly’s foundation can be traced to 2002, when Paqui’s first baseline mammogram revealed two small cysts, which turned out to be cancer. Fast forward to April 2007, and the Brian Kelly Family Foundation was established, just months before Paqui was diagnosed with a second cancer that was different and more aggressive than the first.

By December 2009, Paqui had a clean bill of health and the family foundation was renamed the Kelly Cares Foundation. Brian accepted the head football coaching position at the University of Notre Dame, and the family moved to South Bend, a community they say fully embraced their family and foundation.

Today, Paqui is cancer free and the life-changing experience that inspired a foundation has a reach far beyond Michiana.

Bethel staff and Paqui Kelly (center) cut the ribbon during the dedication.

As of June 2018, the foundation’s website reports contributions over $4 million to organizations globally, including the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, The Paqui and Brian Kelly Comprehensive Breast Center, the University of Notre Dame, Breezy Point Disaster Relief Fund, Andean Health Global, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Beacon Children’s Hospital, Boys & Girls Club, and the YMCA.


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The Kelly Cares Foundation has partnered with the Harper Cancer Research Institute, the University of Notre Dame’s primary entity for cancer research, since 2011, featuring a team of over 60 faculty researchers, numerous students, and other research specialists from around the academy. Kelly Cares currently funds three cancer research projects there.

Paqui’s Playbook is a series of events each October with an emphasis on breast cancer awareness and healthy initiatives.

Irish Eyes Gala is an annual fundraiser for cancer research, education and community initiatives. It is held each May in New York City.