Shortly after graduating from the University at Buffalo in 2008, Foxborough's Jeff Parker was hired by The Kraft Group and worked as the company’s construction manager, a position he took great pride in.
But the Foxborough resident was diagnosed with melanoma in July 2009 and after 10 months of treatment, passed away on May 22, 2010 at the age of 25.
On Friday, Nov. 16, The Jeff Parker Foundation will be holding its second annual Cherish the Champions Gala in the Putnam Club of Gillette Stadium - the facility where Jeff worked after college.
Then on Saturday, UMass hosts Parker’s alma mater, the University at Buffalo at Gillette Stadium.
For some, the connection between Parker and this weekend may be a mere coincidence, but for Parker’s mother, Roberta and family, it’s much more.
“UB is like our extended family,” Roberta Parker said. … “The thing with the game worked out perfectly.”
Roberta, her husband, Walter Parker III and Jeff’s brother, Shawn will be in attendance for Saturday’s game at Gillette as will many from UB's athletic department that knew Jeff.
The connection between UB and the Parkers goes well beyond Saturday’s football game, however, as Jeff was an outstanding wrestler.
During his career at Foxborough High School, Jeff captained the Warriors’ state champion wrestling team and set numerous records for the program along the way. He was also an outstanding football player at FHS.
“Jeff was really into wrestling,” Roberta said. “He wanted to play either football or wrestling for Division I, it was very important to him to be Division I.”
After graduating from Foxborough High School in 2003, Jeff decided to attend Binghamton University. However, on the first day of school he learned the university would be doing away with its wrestling program and Jeff had a difficult decision to make.
“He was given the option to transfer,” Roberta said. “He put in the year and transferred to UB.”
A blessing in disguise for both Jeff and his family.
“For him it was a great fit,” Roberta said.
In three years with UB, Jeff won 73 matches and was the team’s captain his senior year. He also earned the Male Ideal Bull Award, was an Academic All MAC selection and won the SUNY Chancellor Award.
After Jeff was diagnosed with melanoma his UB family reached out by holding a fundraiser, Takedown Cancer to benefit Jeff.
“Every year UB has a Takedown Cancer,” Roberta said. “The first one they had was for Jeff in 2010. They raised $32,000 and Jeff was there.”
Now, UB’s Takedown Cancer events benefit a pediatric cancer center in Buffalo.
After college, Jeff gave back to area communities through sports – serving as an assistant wrestling coach at Franklin High School and offering various wrestling clinics to young athletes.
It is through Jeff’s sense of volunteerism that the Jeff Parker Foundation gives back to those who have been affected by cancer and are in need.
“He always gave everything he did his best effort and never accepted anything less,” a statement by the Jeff Parker Foundation reads. … “We strive to give back the things that were most important to Jeff – helping kids that have been stricken with cancer that are in financial need; scholarships for student athletes; funding for melanoma research; and helping to support college wrestling.”
For more about the Jeff Parker Foundation, click here. To read more about Jeff’s story, view the PDF file in the photo gallery above.