Brewing hope for brain tumor research

Like many who grew up in Massachusetts, Dan Kenary was familiar with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund from a young age. Today, his brewery, Harpoon, is just as well-known among locals and beyond—and Kenary is dedicated to bringing the two together to change the future of cancer treatment.

In 2007, Kenary’s brother, Jim, a father of five, was diagnosed out of the blue with glioblastoma, a brain tumor. It was a shocking diagnosis for the tight-knit family, and their first personal introduction to Dana-Farber. Jim was referred to Patrick Wen, MD, director of the Center for Neuro-Oncology, who confirmed Jim’s diagnosis and treatment plan, and provided compassionate care before Jim unfortunately passed away from the disease. While the outcome was devastating, the care was outstanding, Kenary recalls. “Dr. Wen and his team made the best of a difficult process.”

The experience left such an impression on Kenary that in 2009 he established the Jim Kenary Brain Tumor Research Fund to support Wen’s research, and geared up for his first Pan-Mass Challenge® (PMC), presented by New Balance and the Red Sox Foundation, to raise funds for Dana-Farber. From the moment he set out on the route, Kenary was impressed. “It moved me to tears,” he says. “I saw the pride people have in Dana-Farber; it’s a cherished institution that has cared for New Englanders for years.”

Unfortunately, cancer wasn’t done with the Kenary family. In 2011, Kenary’s mother, Maryanne, was also diagnosed with a glioblastoma. While there was not much to be done for treatment, Kenary says it was a great comfort to see Wen again and experience his kindness and skill.

With Kenary’s personal experience with cancer, Harpoon’s involvement as a PMC sponsor since 1998, and many Harpoon employees riding in the PMC for years, Kenary wanted to find a way to make an even greater impact. And so, Harpoon’s PMC beer was born. Since 2013, Harpoon’s brewers—with input from PMC riders—have developed a special beer for the event, which is sold in the brewery with $1 from every beer benefitting the cause. The PMC beer is also served to riders who dedicate up to 192 miles to Dana-Farber during PMC weekend.

“Each year, I’m honored to raise a glass of our PMC beer in celebration of the entire community of riders, volunteers, PMC staff, and donors,” says Kenary. “I’m proud of the PMC’s leadership in raising funds for cancer care and research.”

In 2018, the company deepened its involvement with Dana-Farber further by sponsoring the first Scoop at Night, a beer and ice cream offshoot of the popular Jimmy Fund Scooper Bowl® presented by Valvoline Instant Oil Change. The summer happy hour event featured Harpoon brews and unlimited sweet scoops for the after-work crowd at Boston City Hall Plaza. Later in the summer, the brewery became a sponsor of the first Jimmy Fund 5K & Fun Run presented by Bayer, refreshing runners in Boston’s Millennium Park at the post-race party.

Harpoon’s newest and most paw-some effort is Dogtoberfest, dog-friendly fun run and walk at the brewery to benefit Kenary’s brain tumor fund at Dana-Farber, during Harpoon’s annual three-day Octoberfest. The event features pups in costume, treats from dog-friendly brands, and, of course, beer for the humans.

“Everyone’s been touched by cancer, either directly or indirectly,” Kenary says. “I hope with these funds Dr. Wen can continue researching the causes of this deadly disease and discover a cure. Everyone at Harpoon is thrilled for us to broaden our relationship with the Institute.”

Shannon Watterson
Assistant Director, Philanthropy Communications