Thursday, August 14, 2008

Jimmy and his television set

I have my thoughts on John Edwards mostly written out, but I am going to hold off on publishing until tomorrow (kinda serious for a Friday, I know). I wanna give people another day to chime in if they would like to...excellent comments so far!

Today, I am totally switching gears.

You all should know by now that I heart Boston very much. I didn't grow up here, and my entire time spent in the city is now a little over three years, but it feels like home to me, and it has since pretty much Day 1. Moving here coincided with a couple of monumental life changes: in 2005 I graduated from college in May, moved here in June, started work in July, got Munchkin for good in August and buried my mother in September. I started dating The Boy that summer, too, although the full significance of that was not immediately obvious:-).

Boston is home to me, and it will be home for as long as I can possibly see on the horizon. Emotionally, it is a very important place for me, and I feel like things here are always good for me. I also really like the city a lot. It can be very small...in fact, the area that has a postal address of "Boston, MA" would seem alarmingly small to most people.

For example, Jenny lives within the city limits, but I am guessing that her mailing address is not Boston...not sure if she has publicized the part of the city she lives in, so I will have to keep that a secret. She can confirm my suspicions if she would like, though:-). Basically, using this handy-dandy neighborhood map, everything between Fenway and the North End, including the South End, is "Boston", and everything else would virtually always be referred to by its other name (I need a ruling...is Mission Hill Boston or Roxbury?). Anyone who lives in Roslindale would tell you they live there, and there address is "Roslindale, MA" not Boston, MA. Actually, they would tell you they live in Rozzy...but that is not important right now.

I love that the city can be so big and so small at the same time. There are nearly 3 million people in the Metro area, yet you can walk from one end of the city's heart to the other in maybe an hour. People as far away as Manchester, NH could consider themselves somehow identified with Boston, yet my sister memorized the subway in a couple months. My car is totally unnecessary.

This is a very long and winding means of getting to, what I think, is one of the neatest things about the city: The Jimmy Fund. I have lived in a couple of big places and traveled to some others, and I have never seen anything really exactly like it. In the simplest explanation, it is a charity that raises money for cancer research, most specifically at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, one of the world's leading cancer hospitals and maybe the leading juvenile cancer hospital.

The Jimmy Fund started in 1948 to buy a little boy a television set. A young cancer patient of Dr. Sydney Farber wanted to watch The Boston Braves from his hospital bed, and a national radio show put him on the air to ask for donations to buy a TV. He needed $500, and listeners of the show pledged about $200,000 (not all at once...it was a huge success, so they asked again later). That started The Jimmy Fund to support Dr. Farber's work. Since then, it has raised more than $500 million.

One thing that makes The Jimmy Fund so uniquely special is its long-time affiliation with The Boston Red Sox. The team and the charity have had a very close long-standing relationship since 1953, a relationship that becomes apparent the moment you get near Fenway Park. The team lends its considerable fundraising might to the organization, and many of the players have traditionally spent an enormous amount of time and effort with the patients at the Dana Farber Institute (mostly the kids).

In fact, it is such a key part of the Red Sox that players who don't spend time there are generally singled out and criticized...ahem. Roger Clemens is a horribly unpopular guy around here, but even his many detractors remember fondly that he would regularly visit the hospital in his uniform because the kids liked it so much better than if he was just in clothes. Tim Wakefield is well known for spending tons and tons of time with the kids, once sitting in a waiting room reading by himself for three hours to say hello to a little kid who couldn't meet with him earlier because he was quarantined from chemo. Things like that make you think that maybe all athletes aren't horribly self-indulged.

I guess my point is that The Jimmy Fund and the Dana Farber are very much a part of the fabric of the city, and I think that is really cool. I write all of this today because this is the start of the annual radio telethon on WEEI, the sports radio station with a really, really unhealthy level of popularity...lol. They hope to raise $4 million, and history says they will do it. If any of you are feeling particularly charitable today...it is pretty hard to find a cause better than Kids with Cancer...

1 comment:

Jenny said...

Haha I have lived all over this city ... not more than a block away from you, in Copley Square, in Brighton, and where I live now with IS Boston, but you are right, when addressing an envelope you write the neighborhood name.

As for the Jimmy Fund - good entry. I LOVE the Jimmy Fund. It is a huge part of my life ... every year my family does tons of fundraising: Pan Mass Challenge, Golf Tournaments, canister nights at Fenway, the Marathon Walk .... As soon as summer hits, we joke that "It's Jimmy Time". From beginning to end, our summer's are pretty much dedicated to the cause. And it's a really great one that I feel so strongly about.

I hope your readers DO feel charitable today! Do it for the kids!!