Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund, 2001

You may have heard of the Jimmy Fund and know something about its work to combat cancer.  But what you may not know is that the Jimmy Fund raises funds exclusively for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, one of the world’s premier centers for cancer research and treatment for both children and adults.  Because of the Jimmy Fund’s vast network of volunteers, administrative costs are kept to a minimum with a remarkable 90 cents of each dollar raised working to eliminate cancer.

In 1948, the Variety Club of New England, a group of leaders in the motion picture and theatrical industry, helped Dr. Sidney Farber, the father of modern chemotherapy, establish a center dedicated solely to the research and treatment of childhood cancer, especially leukemia.  The result of their efforts is now the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

The Jimmy Fund was born when the Variety Club and the old Boston Braves baseball team participated in a national radio appeal on behalf of Jimmy, a 12-year-old leukemia patient.  Their goal was to raise enough money to purchase a television so that Jimmy could watch his favorite team from his hospital bed.  The appeal so touched the hearts of people that the resulting flood of contributions not only bought Jimmy his television, but also launched “The Jimmy Fund.”  When the Red Sox replaced the Braves in Boston, they adopted the Jimmy Fund and continue to support it today.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is one of 20 federally-designated cancer centers and is home to the Jimmy Fund.  Its unique blend of basic and clinical research helps to unravel the complicated workings of cancer and rapidly deliver new treatments.  At Dana-Farber, the staff is dedicated to discovery and committed to care.

The Pan-Mass Challenge is a 200 mile, two day bike ride started in 1980 by Billy Starr after his mother died of cancer.  She had given much of her time to volunteer work, and Billy wanted a lasting tribute to her memory.  The first year of the PMC had only 36 riders, and raised $10,000.  This year we will have over 3000 riders and have set a goal of $13,000,000, making us the largest contributor to the Jimmy Fund, as we have been for the last five years.  

“The PMC has succeeded largely because of self interest: The riders, volunteers, and sponsors are motivated in a very personal way to fight cancer,” says Billy, who estimates that about 80 percent of those involved have either had cancer themselves or know someone who has.  “It’s that kind of self-interest that can make things better in our society.”

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