The power of youth and community to defy cancer

Philanthropy knows no age limits—and neither does cancer. Since the Jimmy Fund was founded 75 years ago, people of all ages and from all walks of life have banded together to support Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and its lifesaving mission to defy cancer for people of all ages. Let’s meet some of our younger fundraisers, Junior Jimmy FundRaisers, who embody Dana-Farber’s mission by organizing their own events and fundraisers to support the Jimmy Fund. 

Central Catholic High School 

Inspired by a desire to make a difference, spring sports teams at Central Catholic High School in Lawrence, Mass embarked on their first fundraising journey in spring 2023 to support the Jimmy Fund. 

The school’s athletic director, Zach Blaszak, had been eager to involve the athletic teams in a collaborative effort that would make a meaningful difference. Girls’ tennis, softball, lacrosse, track and field, and boys’ baseball teams embraced the opportunity to participate in the fundraising competition. Each team organized their own fundraiser, including an opportunity drawing, wristband sales, bake sales, and more, to ensure efforts reached the entire student body.  

“Moving forward, we would like to have a ‘Dana-Farber Week’ when each team uses their home game during that particular week to raise awareness of what Dana-Farber does for cancer patients,” says Casey Grange, assistant athletic director.  

Northeastern University Fall Fest 

Students at Northeastern University check out a booth at Fall Fest

Fall Fest, organized by the philanthropy committee of Northeastern University’s Kappa Sigma fraternity, has emerged as a powerful force in the fight against cancer—and a wonderful way to unite the university community and surrounding neighborhoods to raise funds for the Jimmy Fund. Held annually, Fall Fest serves as a platform for attendees to enjoy live music from local bands, engage in carnival games, participate in activities like face and pumpkin painting, experience a dunk tank, win prizes, and savor delicious food. 

“We hope Dana-Farber will be able to help make the lives of cancer patients and their families even just a little bit easier with the money we raise,” says Ryan Potechin, from Kappa Sigma. “Dana-Farber has done incredible work for many years, and we know that our funds will be put to good use no matter where they end up. Going forward we hope that the funds we raise with future Fall Fest events will be able to play some part in helping find a cure for cancer.”  

To anyone contemplating starting a Jimmy FundRaiser, Ryan, who organized Fall Fest in just two short months, shares a resounding message: “Just go for it.” Ryan and his fellow students emphasize the importance of reaching out to other organizations and leveraging the support available within the local community, including the invaluable assistance provided by Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund.  

Charles Sumner School

Four students at Charles Sumner School show off their blue Jimmy Fund bracelets in their classroom

High school, college—even elementary school students can help Dana-Farber defy cancer. Jeff Holland, a teacher at Charles Sumner School in Boston, organized his students this year around a capstone project supporting the Jimmy Fund to do just that. 

“The capstone is a culminating piece of work that provides the students with the opportunity to showcase their research on a particular topic,” he explains. “Multiple students in my class were inspired by the Jimmy Fund and wanted to establish a partnership between the Sumner School and the organization.” 

The students learned about Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund while fundraising through bake sales and growing and selling plants, and in doing so, learned the power of philanthropy and helping others.  

“Not everything that we teach comes from a textbook,” Jeff says. “To expose students to the chance of helping someone who needs a simple hug or smile is the best lesson that could ever be taught.” 

These are just a few of the hundreds of fundraisers held annually by community members to support Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund. Learn more about how you can start your own Jimmy FundRaiser event—no matter your age or passion—to raise vital funds to prevent, treat, and defy cancer.  

Junior Jimmy FundRaisers support The Dana-Farber Campaign, our ambitious, multi-year fundraising effort to prevent, treat, and defy cancer. The Dana-Farber Campaign will accelerate the Institute’s strategic priorities by supporting revolutionary science, extraordinary care, and exceptional expertise. As a community, we have the power to create a more hopeful, cancer-free future—in Boston and around the world. Together, we can defy cancer at every turn. Learn more about The Dana-Farber Campaign and how you can get involved at