CRANSTON, RI (WPRI) — This week’s Cardi’s Furniture & Mattresses Hometown Sports Hero is Jay Jeannotte.
The Narragansett native will step into the ring Thursday night in a charity fight in Boston for Haymakers for Hope.
“It’s always something that I wanted to do,” Jeannotte said. “I had some buddies that have done it in the past and last December I got a package in the mail, from some of my friends in school and it was just a set of boxing gloves with a note, ‘It’s time to fight Jay!’ And that’s what did it for me. I moved ahead and signed up and thankfully I got picked and we started training in January, and it has been quite a journey since then.”
That journey was borne out of personal tragedy. Jay’s Dad John was a lifelong boxing fan who taught the sport at the Rhode Island Boxing Gym. John Jeannotte lost his battle with Esophageal cancer last March. Four months later, the same cancer took his Mom, Mary. The ring became a place to heal and reconnect.
“It’s definitely a cool full circle, and it brings back those good memories,” Jay Jeannotte said. “Together in the garage, or just being in the gym and working with the Balletto’s. He loved Gary Senior as well, that was one of his favorite fighters. I just smile all the time, knowing that he’s smiling and is proud of this whole experience.”
Jay’s original goal was to raise $10,000 for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, but thanks to the support of family and friends, he’s passed $65,000 mark. Now he can focus on his ring debut to honor his parents’ memory.
“I honestly feel like we’ve won already,” Jeannotte said. “Just from the journey, where I was in January, not just physically but mentally as well. I feel like I’ve grown so much as a person in the last four months, just learned a lot about myself. I’m feeling a lot better and at the end of the day, I think that’s achieving a goal in itself.”
If you have a Hometown Sports Hero you’d like to nominate, email firstname.lastname@example.org