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The Jimmy Fund Celebrates 75 years of Progress and Impact on May 22

Dedicated to raising funds for pediatric and adult cancer care and research at Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Jimmy Fund will launch its 75th anniversary on Monday, May 22. Activities will include adult and pediatric patients unveiling and previewing the Jimmy Fund inspired cow, "Strong as Iron," from this summer’s CowParade New England presented by Herb Chambers art installation. At dusk, Boston-area landmarks with be lit in blue, and seven billboards, including the BCEC and Fenway Park centerfield scoreboard, will carry an anniversary message in and around Boston that evening.

May 22 also marks a special opportunity to defy cancer with the Jimmy Fund’s annual Giving Day, dedicated to sharing inspirational stories from Dana-Farber patients and coming together as a community to raise funds to help defy cancer. Special anniversary events will continue throughout the summer to celebrate 75 years of the Jimmy Fund and support of cancer care and research at the #1 ranked cancer center in New England.

The Jimmy Fund, established in Boston in 1948, is comprised of community-based fundraising events and other programs that, solely and directly, benefit Dana-Farber’s lifesaving mission to provide expert, compassionate, and equitable patient care and groundbreaking cancer research for children and adults.

"As we mark the Jimmy Fund’s 75-year anniversary, we take pride in remaining anchored by the core principles of Dr. Sidney Farber's mission: to make scientific discoveries and turn them into lifesaving treatments," said Laurie H. Glimcher, MD, president and CEO, Dana-Farber. "The Jimmy Fund has enabled Dana-Farber to become one of the world's leading centers of cancer research and treatment, saving countless lives."

Since its inception, the generosity of millions of people in Boston and around the world has helped the Jimmy Fund reduce the burden of cancer for patients and families. Jimmy's story began in 1948 when Dr. Farber's 12-year-old lymphoma patient, Einar Gustafson, the original "Jimmy," inspired hundreds of thousands of people during a national radio broadcast. Dubbed "Jimmy" to protect his identity, Gustafson was selected to speak on Ralph Edwards' program, "Truth or Consequences," which was broadcast from the boy's hospital room on May 22, 1948.

During the broadcast, Edwards spoke to the young boy from his Hollywood studio as Boston Braves baseball players, Gustafson’s favorite team, surprised him with a visit to his hospital room. The show ended with a plea for listeners to make donations, so Jimmy could get his own TV set to watch his beloved Braves play. Not only did he get his wish, but more than $200,000 was collected and the Jimmy Fund was born.

Funds raised by the Jimmy Fund over the years enabled Dr. Farber’s small basement laboratory to grow into a world-renowned cancer center with more than 10,000 faculty and staff seeking cancer cures and providing treatments that are now the standard of cancer care around the world. For 75 years, Dana-Farber has cared for patients with expertise and compassion, forged new frontiers in cancer research, and provided a sanctuary for bright and curious minds to pursue their passions.

Activities for the Jimmy Fund’s 75th (#JimmyFund75) anniversary include:

  • Proclamation – Boston Mayor Michelle Wu will issue a City of Boston Proclamation, announcing May 22 as Jimmy Fund Day.
  • Unveil the Jimmy Fund Cow, Strong as Iron – Dana-Farber executives and pediatric and adult patients and the artist will unveil the cow at the Yawkey Center for Cancer Care on 450 Brookline Avenue at 10 a.m. on May 22.
  • CowParade New England Presented by Herb Chambers – a transformative art installation featuring 75 life-size cow sculptures, which are painted and transformed into one-of-a-kind art pieces by a range of artists throughout the region. These cows will be prominently displayed throughout high traffic landmarks around the city and Greater Boston from June 24 through Labor Day weekend.
  • Founding Families Luncheon – The Jimmy Fund will host an intimate luncheon for the Jimmy Fund’s founding families and will premiere the "I am Jimmy" movie trailer at the Showcase SuperLux in Chestnut Hill.
  • Jimmy Fund Giving Day – Donors will help ensure Dana-Farber patients will continue to receive the care they need and deserve for the next 75 years. Funds raised will benefit innovative early-stage research, speeding new drugs into clinical trials, expanding access to care, and much more.
  • Light Boston Blue for the Jimmy Fund – Many of Boston’s most popular landmarks and structures will light up in the Jimmy Fund’s signature blue to celebrate the Jimmy Fund on the evening of May 22.

The Jimmy Fund is a nationally recognized charity because:

  • Eighty-eight cents of every dollar donated goes directly to research and patient care.
  • It consistently receives a 4-star rating (the highest available) from Charity Navigator, the nation’s premier charity evaluator, demonstrating our ongoing fiscal excellence.
  • It is the number #4 cancer charity in Forbes’ list of America’s Top Charities.

Support of the Jimmy Fund has allowed Dana-Farber researchers and physicians to contribute numerous scientific breakthroughs across all types of cancer including:

  • In 1954, Dr. Farber and his colleagues achieved the first remissions of Wilms' tumor, a common form of childhood cancer, and boosted cure rates from 40 percent to 85 percent.
  • Started the first in an ongoing series of clinical trials for children diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). These trials dramatically improved treatment and played a key role in building toward today's cure rates of 85 to 90 percent.
  • In 1998, a drug called imatinib (Gleevec), the early work for which was done at Dana-Farber, achieved striking success in many patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia.
  • Officials launched Profile, a research program that enables all adult patients treated at the Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center to have their tumor tissue scanned for genetic mutations known or suspected of being linked to cancer.
  • Nivolumab (Optivo) became the first drug targeting the PD-L1 protein on cancer cells to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The drug, part of a revolution in cancer immunotherapy, derived from research by Dana-Farber scientists.
  • Following a clinical trial led by Dana-Farber investigators, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted its first approval for CAR T-cell therapy for adults with multiple myeloma. U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted its first approval for CAR T-cell therapy for adults with multiple myeloma.
  • Dana-Farber scientist William Kaelin Jr., MD, was named a co-recipient of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for research into the mechanism by which cells sense and adjust to varying levels of oxygen.
  • The Institute is internationally renowned for its equal commitment to cutting edge research and provision of excellent patient care.
  • Dana-Farber investigators played a substantial role in the development of over half (51%) of all cancer drugs approved by the FDA in the last five years.

The Jimmy Fund will also celebrate longstanding partnerships and relationships, including that with the Red Sox, the oldest and most successful partnership between a sports team and charity in the nation; the Pan-Mass Challenge, the largest single donor to Dana-Farber; the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, for which the Jimmy Fund has been the primary charity since 1953; and the Variety Children's Charity of New England, which helped launch the Jimmy Fund in 1948.

"The history of the Jimmy Fund is characterized by the dedication and support of all who have been and are involved, showing the power of 75 years of community and that together, we're all Jimmy, said Melany Duval, senior vice president and chief philanthropy officer, Dana-Farber. "As we look to the future, we aim to broaden that community, including donors, volunteers, and Institute staff, to continue the Dana-Farber and Jimmy Fund lifesaving mission and work toward a world free from the fear and burden of cancer."

"We are celebrating everyone who is and has been involved with the Jimmy Fund, including patients, faculty, volunteers, fundraisers, donors, corporate partners, event participants, and other supporters, whose efforts have been so impactful in continuing to support the fight against cancer at Dana-Farber," said Larry Lucchino, chairman of the Jimmy Fund, trustee of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, chairman/principal owner of the Worcester Red Sox, and president/CEO Emeritus of the Boston Red Sox.

About the Jimmy Fund

The Jimmy Fund, celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2023, is comprised of community-based fundraising events and other programs that, solely and directly, benefit Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s lifesaving mission to provide compassionate patient care and groundbreaking cancer research for children and adults. The Jimmy Fund is an official charity of the Boston Red Sox, the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, the Pan-Mass Challenge, and the Variety Children's Charity of New England. Since 1948, the generosity of millions of people has helped the Jimmy Fund save countless lives and reduce the burden of cancer for patients and families worldwide. Follow the Jimmy Fund on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @TheJimmyFund.

About Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is one of the world's leading centers of cancer research and treatment. Dana-Farber's mission is to reduce the burden of cancer through scientific inquiry, clinical care, education, community engagement, and advocacy. Dana-Farber is a federally designated Comprehensive Cancer Center and a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School. We provide the latest treatments in cancer for adults through Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center and for children through Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. Dana-Farber is the only hospital nationwide with a top 4 U.S. News & World Report Best Cancer Hospital ranking in both adult and pediatric care. As a global leader in oncology, Dana-Farber is dedicated to a unique and equal balance between cancer research and care, translating the results of discovery into new treatments for patients locally and around the world, offering more than 1,100 clinical trials.

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