What began as one child’s plea for help, culminated in the birth of The Jimmy Fund. This charity is dedicated to supporting “the fight against cancer in children and adults at Boston's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, [by] helping to raise the chances of survival for cancer patients around the world.”
While many believe that Jimmy was the one who began The Jimmy Fund, in reality “Jimmy” does not exist.
In fact, he never existed.
In 1948, the name “Jimmy” was given as an alias to Einar Gustafson, a twelve year old boy who was suffering from cancer, to protect his privacy when he was chosen to speak from his hospital room on Ralph Edwards’ national radio show “Truth or Consequences.” Gustafson appealed to the show’s listeners to donate funds towards Dr. Sidney Farber’s, the founder of the Children’s Cancer Resaerch Foundation, (later named Dana-Farber Cancer Institute) and a pioneer in modern chemotherapy, research. Once more than $200,000 was raised towards Dr. Farber’s cancer research from Edwards’ radio show, The Jimmy Fund was created.
Although not intentional, until 1998, Gustafson’s identity as “Jimmy” was concealed. While most people imagined that the young “Jimmy” had passed away as cures for pediatric cancers were very rare at the time in which Gustafson was treated, Gustafson had returned to live anonymously at his family’s farm in Maine and later in Massachusetts after his successful bout with fame and the remission of his cancer.
On the 50th anniversary of the radio broadcast from Einar Gustafson’s hospital room, “Jimmy” was “welcomed back” to Dana-Farber and he was once again a celebrity. This time though, he ran with his fame.
From the time he “reemerged” as “Jimmy” in 1998, until he passed away from a stroke in 2001, Gustafson spread this charity’s message through the variety of fundraising events The Jimmy Fund offers and even drove a trailer across the country painted with The Jimmy Fund’s logo: "Because it takes more than courage to beat cancer.”
So what does The Jimmy Fund have to do with The Boston Red Sox?
Back in his hospital room in 1948, the Boston Braves, Boston’s baseball team at the time, joined “Jimmy” in his appeal to the millions of listeners on Ralph Edwards’ radio program. And since 1953, when “The Red Sox [Boston’s new baseball team] adopted The Jimmy Fund as its official charity,” the two have “established a deep bond —unlike any other in professional sports.”
The team’s enthusiasm and dedication to raise funds for The Jimmy Fund, which in turn funds the research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute has highlighted the importance of partnering such a legendary sports team with such a celebrated charity.
The Red Sox consistently place The Jimmy Fund at the top of their priorities; from visiting sick children in the hospital to hosting the annual WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon and the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge (“the nation's original fundraising bike-a-thon”).
Additionally, The Jimmy Fund organizes numerous events, such as the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk, and the Jimmy Fund Scooperbowl (an all you can eat ice cream festival, where funds to enter the event are donated to The Jimmy Fund).
In their mission to restore and maintain the resilience and happiness of “kids just wanting to be kids,” The Jimmy Fund has become one of the nation’s premier charities to reach such a feat.
Please visit jimmyfund.org to learn more.
(The Jimmy Fund supports the fight against cancer in children and adults at Boston's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute).