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Please note that some translations using Google Translate may not be accurately represented and downloaded documents cannot be translated. Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund assume no liability for inaccuracies that may result from using this third-party tool, which is for website translation.

Boston Marathon® Jimmy Fund Walk celebrates 35 years of inspiration and impact

Jimmy Fund Walk Team Maleia Strong
Team #MaleiaStrong, led by Kristy Spears (fourth from left), participates in the Jimmy Fund Walk virtually from Crestview, Fla.

Spring 2024
By Casey Reis
Photography by Josh Campbell and Bryce Vickmark

Last fall, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute patients, families, and supporters joined forces to defy cancer at the 35th annual Boston Marathon® Jimmy Fund Walk presented by Hyundai, which raises the most money of any single-day walk in the nation. Year after year, dedicated walkers gather on the world-famous Boston Marathon® course for a day of hope, unity, and inspiration, fueling critical advancements in cancer treatment. The October 1 event was marked by more than 8,400 enthusiastic participants coming together to raise a record-breaking $9.4 million for The Dana-Farber Campaign and provide critical momentum to innovative scientific discovery and compassionate patient care. It was a milestone year for Dana-Farber’s signature event, propelling the Walk’s cumulative fundraising total to more than $176 million raised since its inception in 1989.

The Walk served as a magnificent capstone to the Jimmy Fund’s 75th anniversary year, and a reminder of the power of its grassroots community. Walkers, corporate sponsors, volunteers, and their supporters all played a pivotal role in the event’s success, including presenting sponsor Hyundai, which has supported the Walk since 1998.

Jimmy Fund Walk participants could walk virtually in a location of their choice or from a distance along the Boston Marathon course—ranging from a 5K to a 26.2-mile marathon—with all in-person routes culminating in a finish line celebration. Along the course, walkers were supported by more than 700 volunteers and treated to complimentary snacks and water provided by generous sponsors. Traditionally, finish line festivities take place at Copley Square in Boston, but with construction underway at the landmark site, it shifted to the Fenway Park neighborhood. There, walkers celebrated 35 years of progress with lively music, food, motivational speeches, and more within view of the historic baseball stadium.

Kristy Spears led team #MaleiaStrong in a virtual Jimmy Fund Walk in her hometown of Crestview, Fla. Kristy walks in memory of her daughter Maleia, a pediatric brain tumor patient who was treated in Dana-Farber’s Jimmy Fund Clinic. “It is the best place to be when faced with the horrific, life-changing words, ‘Your child has cancer,’” Kristy says.

“It was an opportunity to give back to a place that had given us extra time and memories with our beloved daughter.”

Kristy Spears

The closeness and camaraderie of the Jimmy Fund Walk drew Kristy in. “The walkers are there due to a direct connection to someone who has been well-loved and cared for at Dana-Farber. After our daughter surrendered her fight, getting involved simply felt natural. It was an opportunity to give back to a place that had given us extra time and memories with our beloved daughter.” Since the team’s inaugural Walk in 2022, #MaleiaStrong has raised more than $70,600.

Each dollar raised by walkers like Kristy adds up to an extraordinary sum that will significantly impact the future of cancer care. While a lot has changed in the 35 years since the first Jimmy Fund Walk, its growing community remains profoundly bonded by a fierce determination to defy cancer—in honor of the patients they walk for, and in the spirit of those who walked before them.

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