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Erin Kelly humbled by response to ‘Kelly Tough’

Erin Kelly was in Bristol, Conn., on Wednesday to do what publicists term the “ESPN Carwash.”

That’s another way of saying she appeared on multiple shows emanating from ESPN’s broadcast headquarters to promote her book, “Kelly Tough,” which chronicles how her family has persevered through the battle her father, Hall-of-Fame quarterback Jim Kelly, has waged with cancer and other challenges.

First stop was the set of the “Mike & Mike” show on ESPN Radio and ESPN2, on which Erin appeared with her father.

She spent Monday and Tuesday in New York, appearing on NBC’s “Today Show” and “Fox and Friends,” among other programs. She was joined by her father and mother/co-author Jill Kelly.

“It’s really been an honor to be on all these shows and have the opportunity to share what our family has been through over the past year, two years,” Erin said by phone. “Ultimately, through every one, my main message to get across is through ‘Kelly Tough,’ I wanted to encourage people to be courageous and live fearlessly. Because no one is guaranteed tomorrow. We don’t know what our next breath holds, so cherish every moment as if it’s our last.”

On Tuesday, she had her first book signing at Barnes & Noble on Fifth Avenue in New York. More than 100 people attended, some wearing Jim Kelly’s No. 12 Bills jersey.

“Just to be with my dad, my mom and my sister, Camryn, who is also with us on this book tour, is humbling,” Erin said. “I could have never imagined this happening. It’s an awesome experience.”

Erin, who recently turned 20 and just completed her second year at Liberty University, said she began honing her writing skills while writing a fan diary for The News about her father’s struggles with cancer and about the Bills.

The idea of doing a book came about when she was in New York, making entries into her journal, while Jim was undergoing treatment there.

“I started thinking about what ‘Kelly Tough’ actually means,” Erin said. “Then I talked to my mom about wanting to share this in order to inspire others and give hope to others. And we both decided that we wanted to share this on a greater level.

“I always saw my dad as being such a tough, strong guy. And it was so weird for me to see my big, tough daddy being physically weakened, and it was able to reveal to me the strength of God. It taught me that it’s OK to be weak, it’s OK to cry and it’s OK to let your guard down and be vulnerable. Because sometimes, in our weakest moments, we are at our strongest because we allow God’s strength to be displayed in the midst of that.”

On Thursday, Erin and Jill are planning to travel to Norfolk, Va., to appear on the “The 700 Club” TV program. Erin has another book signing set for Tuesday, May 26 at 6 p.m. at Barnes & Noble at McKinley Mall.

“Everyone has their own story, their own struggles,” she said. “My hope is that ‘Kelly Tough’ encourages someone else going through hard circumstances.”


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