The Boston Marathon® Jimmy Fund Walk presented by Hyundai changed routes and stayed the course in the fight against cancer by introducing its first-ever virtual Walk in 2020. Although unable to hold an in-person event due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Walk made incredible strides in the fight against cancer by raising more than $6 million, which brought the event’s lifetime fundraising total to more than $150 million.
The Jimmy Fund Walk: Your Way on Oct. 4 invited participants to support Dana-Farber’s cancer research and patient care just as it has throughout its 32-year history. In an effort to keep all participants and the community safe, participants walked in locations of their choosing rather than on the historic Boston Marathon® course. Jimmy Fund supporters from across the country and around the world, walked in their neighborhoods, on local hiking trails, or wherever else they liked.
The flexibility of this year’s event meant many people outside the Boston area were able to join the Walk’s efforts without leaving home. With walkers in all 50 states and 15 countries as far-flung as Afghanistan, Chile, Czech Republic, Sweden, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates, the event was truly global. The diversity of their locations highlighted that, regardless of where they live, walkers could take steps to help fight cancer.
Some popular hallmarks of the Walk were made virtual, including the Ribbon Wall, where walkers could electronically sign a ribbon in honor of the person for whom they walk. Among the new features of the Walk was the Charity Miles app, which tracked walkers’ training and offered information about Walk Heroes, Dana-Farber patients who share their personal stories to inspire Walkers’ efforts. The 2020 Walk marked 10 years of participation for team Seshu Strong. Walking in honor of Seshu Kandukuri, who passed away in 2012 at the age of 19 after a two-year battle with cancer, team members joined from all over Massachusetts and New Hampshire, including 50 walkers at Grafton High School in Grafton, Mass., and 40 walkers at Nashua High School in Nashua, N.H. The team also set out to take hope as high as they could by summiting local mountains—including Mt. Washington, Mt. Monroe, and Mt. Eisenhower, and many others—with a Jimmy Fund Walk flag. “I am so thankful to our team and valuable donors, and for the great encouragement of our friends, families, colleagues and the community,” said Rao Kandukuri, Seshu’s father and team captain of Seshu Strong. “The world is built on a great supportive system!”
Rao was joined by three local students who served as co-captains: Ajay Vempati, Sreeja Chaparala and Sneha Prasad.
Team Brain Aid also knew they wanted to continue their team’s participation in the annual Walk, and, like many, had concerns about what a normally large-scale event would be like in a virtual setting. Team captain Kai Lam said that the mission and need remained the same, so Team Brain Aid wanted to continue their support of the event.
“Our fundraising events were different in this year, but the passion for supporting Dana-Farber was no less and passion carries us so far,” said Lam. “Many of our team members and supporters thought that this was one of the best years yet—bonds were strengthened, awareness was raised, and fundraising went well beyond expectations.”
Lam went on to explain that it was a great year and made Team Brain Aid excited for future Jimmy Fund Walks.
“Whatever future years bring, we’re confident and will be ready to walk our way, wherever and however we’re needed.”