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Jimmy Fund Walk raised millions for cancer patients


A medical professional walks through the catwalk of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in the Longwood Medical Area.

The Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk is one of the prominent fundraising events to support the “Defy Cancer” campaign of the Dana Farber Cancer Research Institute. The institute started this campaign in 2017, designed to advance success through cutting-edge science and to develop skills in the fields of research and treatment. “We are the only hospital in New England to announce a $2 billion campaign focused solely on cancer. Our visionary trailblazers, medical pioneers, and compassionate caregivers are changing the future of cancer,” reads the institute’s website.

On Oct. 2, the Jimmy Fund Walk raised millions for cancer research and patients at Dana Farber. Thousands of people walked, almost two years post-pandemic, to raise money for cancer patients. The Jimmy Fund was established in 1984, designed to facilitate community-based fundraising programs whose direct beneficiaries are cancer patients at Dana Farber.

Participants walked from Hopkinton to Copley Square, with a complete route of 26.2 miles. They also had an option to run a half-marathon from Wellesley. In addition to the in-person walk, people had a virtual option, too, where they went on a hiking trail or did a treadmill at home. According to the Boston Herald, around 1800 people participated virtually.

Conor O’Donohoe and his entire family walked the marathon on Sunday, to support their son Casey O’Donohoe, a three-year-old with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. They named their team, “Mayor Casey’s Crew,” and intended to raise $5,000. Casey’s mother, Katy, told the Boston Globe that they initially thought to raise money between $5,000 and $1,000 each, between them and two other families. “Then we had eight of his teachers from his daycare join, and they put it out to the community. They’ve been fantastic, super supportive,” said Katy.

“It feels like old times to be back in person this year,” Zack Blackburn, director of the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk, told the Boston Herald. Around 6,000 people walked the marathon to support the cause. According to the organizers, the Jimmy Fund Walk raises more money in a single day than any other walk in the nation. As more donations come in over the following weeks, the event this year is anticipated to raise more than $8 million by the end of October, according to Blackburn.

UMass Boston has a longstanding relationship with the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. The UMass Boston – Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center Partnership seeks to accomplish numerous goals, some of which are to “develop educational experiences for students and trainees from a diverse population typically underrepresented in biomedical careers;” to “bridge research-community divides through innovative platforms;” and to “advance Partnership transdisciplinary cancer and cancer health disparities research programs reflecting the theme bridging the divides.”

UMass Boston students benefit from this program in several ways. There are community-based research opportunities with lab-based research, and even work as paid interns. Several hospitals and medical schools have partnered too, including Harvard Medical School, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston Children’s Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Massachusetts General Hospital.

“Today, more than 1,100 DF/HCC cancer researchers are working together in innovative clinical, translational, basic, and population-based research programs,” UMass Boston states on its website. This partnership accomplished a lot of things between the years 2010 and 2020. Twenty-one investigators—of whom 54 percent are faculty of color and 18 percent are from underrepresented groups—earned faculty appointments, tenure or promotion. Twelve projects from UMass Boston and nine from DF/HCC, as well as 36 cross-institutional projects were funded.

Jimmy Fund Walk returns to Boston Marathon course, raising millions for cancer patients and research at Dana-Farber



About the Contributor
Kaushar Barejiya, News Editor