Putting for Patients brings students together to raise money for cancer

Putting for Patients founder Mark Levine with student-organizers from Medfield High School.
Putting for Patients founder Mark Levine with student-organizers from Medfield High School.

Mark Levine has no direct connection to pediatric cancer, but he’s always sympathized with the plight these kids face. To help make an impact in the fight against cancer, he joined the Jimmy Fund Council of Greater Boston in 2008. A few years later, he launched Putting for Patients, a unique program in which area high school students organize mini golf events to benefit Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund. We recently talked with Mark about his passion for the cause and his desire to influence future generations in the fight against cancer.

Q. How did Putting for Patients get its start?
Too many high school students have classmates who are diagnosed with cancer, and I wanted to help them give back through fundraising in support of their peers. I wrote letters to the faculty advisors at a dozen local schools to gauge their interest in starting a mini golf fundraiser. Medfield (Mass.) High School was the first to agree to host a Putting for Patients tournament in their gymnasium.

Q. What role do the students play in running the event?
All I do is offer advice and try to secure sponsorships and gifts to help fund the event, but otherwise they run it. The students at Medfield High School even came up with the name, Putting for Patients.

From the start, it was important to me that the students were the ones in charge. I feel it’s significant they are exposed to a cause that’s bigger than they are at an early age. Their involvement now will hopefully carry over in their support of the Jimmy Fund when they are adults.

Q. What do students get out of the experience?
The students work hard, take pride in what they are doing, and feel a personal connection when it’s up to them to make it successful.

Q. What makes Putting for Patients unique?
The unique element starts with the ability to have a mini golf course right inside a high school gym. We also can have family-fun activities like a long putt contest, face painting, a caricaturist, food, prizes, and opportunity drawings all at the same location. It’s an event that both students and community members can enjoy.

Since 2013, Mark has expanded Putting for Patients to seven new schools and hopes to influence many more students to become involved with the Jimmy Fund. Medfield High School, where the program originated, has collectively raised $14,000 for Dana-Farber. To Emily Zone, Vice President of the Medfield High School Student Council, the event has had a lasting impact:

“Months of hard work and preparation pay off on this very special day. Through my participation in Putting for Patients, I have realized that volunteering and fundraising are contagious. This event ignites a burning desire in me and my fellow students to reach out and make a difference, big or small, in Medfield and beyond.”

Mini Golf is a fun, easy activity not only for schools, but also at businesses and in the community. If you’re interested in partnering with Putting for Patients, or starting a mini golf event of your own, contact the Jimmy Fund Golf office.

Dan D’Onofrio
Account Manager/Writer, Development Communications