August 19, 2006
WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon raises $2.9 million to fight cancer
Celebrities, VIPs, sports fans and rivals join forces to raise nearly $3 million in 18 hours
(Left to right): Meg Vallaincourt, Red Sox Foundation; Suzanne Fountain, director of the Jimmy Fund; Sean McGrail, president of NESN; Mike Andrews, Chairman of the Jimmy Fund; Michael Holley, WEEI on-air personality; Dale Arnold, WEEI on-air personality; Jason Wolfe, VP of Programming and Operations for WEEI and Wally the Green Monster.
Fans and officials of the Boston sports teams and the New York Yankees put their differences aside to help fight cancer, raising $2.9 million in less than 24 hours in the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon at Fenway Park. The record-breaking total resulted from a collaboration of rivals as well as WEEI Sports Radio, New England Sports Network (NESN) and the Jimmy Fund, which supports cancer research and care for both adults and children at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
Pledges and gifts poured in from across the country beginning at 6 a.m. and lasting past midnight. As usual, Boston's sports teams were among the most generous. Red Sox owner John Henry contributed $30,000 and the Red Sox Minority Partners gave $110,000. Red Sox players Mike Lowell, a cancer survivor, and Trot Nixon appeared on air and the entire Red Sox team took up a collection between games. The Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation gave $25,000, Boston Bruins CEO Jeremy Jacobs added $25,000, and Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig gave $35,000. Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney added $5,000.
Proving that when it comes to cancer, everyone is on the same team, people with Yankee connections helped to push the total close to the $3 million mark. Yankees owner George Steinbrenner continued his streak of contributing to the Jimmy Fund through the radio-telethon by giving $10,000. The Roger Clemens' Foundation gave $21,000. Yankees star Jason Giambi sent word during the first game of the day that he'd like to contribute $1000.
At 10:15 p.m., WEEI's Joe Castiglione announced that $2.3 million had been raised and mentioned that was just $60,000 shy of breaking the record set during the 2005 radio-telethon. Donald Trump, who had thrown out the ceremonial first pitch along with two pediatric cancer patients from Dana-Farber's Jimmy Fund Clinic and was in the WEEI broadcast booth at the time, stepped up to the plate with a $60,000 gift to break the record.
When the phones closed at 1 a.m., shortly after the Red Sox and Yankees completed the longest nine-inning game in Major League Baseball history, the tally board total stood at $2,887,853. Online contributions pushed that total to 2,903,120 by Saturday afternoon and online gifts will continue to be taken through the weekend at www.jimmyfund.org. A check presentation is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 21, before the final game between the Red Sox and Yankees.
"This event is a true tribute to sports, the fans, the Red Sox, WEEI and NESN, and to everyone facing cancer around the world," said Jimmy Fund Chairman Mike Andrews. "A sincere thank you from the Jimmy Fund goes to all who contributed so generously."
A pre-game ceremony included Trump's first pitch with brain tumor patients, nine-year-old Lexi-Skye Alden and 10-year-old Will Gray. Six-year-old Jimmy Fund Clinic patient Jordan Leandre sang the National Anthem, reprising his performance during the 2004 radio-telethon that led to an appearance in the Farrelly brothers' movie, "Fever Pitch." The Jimmy Fund "all-star team" then took the field, as eight children and one adult - all either with cancer now or survivors -- took their positions and some warm-up throws. Then the Red Sox starting nine jogged out to meet them, all interacting with "the team" before joining them and more than 38,000 fans in the stands in saluting the flag during Leandre's touching "Star-Spangled Banner."
Prior to that, several notable callers chimed in, including actors Ben Affleck, Mike O'Malley, Jim Belushi, Jimmy Kimmel, Peter and Bobby Farrelly, and Massachusetts Senators Ted Kennedy and John Kerry.
"Once again we heard some incredible stories from some truly courageous people," said WEEI Vice President Jason Wolfe. "We are proud to be able to use the power of our radio station to impact the community in such an important and meaningful way. We thank the staffs of WEEI, NESN and the Jimmy Fund for their hard work in making this year's radio-telethon an amazing event."
Founded in 1948 to raise funds for patient care and the fight against children's cancer, the Jimmy Fund supports the search for new cancer treatments and cures for both adults and children at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Ranked as the top cancer hospital in New England, Dana-Farber is recognized by the National Cancer institute as one of the world's leaders in cancer care and research. The Jimmy Fund has been an official charity of the Boston Red Sox since 1953.