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Why I Donate To The Jimmy Fund Every Year

Even when the baseball is rough, I always make it a point to call in.

Houston Astros v Boston Red Sox Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

“They lost because you fell asleep!”

I guess before I really get into why I donate every year, I’ve gotta tell the story of how I became a Red Sox fan.

Like most neurotic sports fans, there tends to be a figure behind you who's just as crazy about the team you root for. For me? Those are my parents. I was just too young to dig my teeth into baseball in 2003, but my older brother wasn’t. He was apparently something of a good luck charm for my parents as they watched the Sox and Yankees battle it out in the 2003 ALCS. Night in and night out, no matter the score, my older brother was with my parents watching each game. That is until Game 7 stretched a little too far beyond what my older brother’s eyes could muster and he fell asleep before the ugh Aaron Boone walk-off homer. In 2004, my parents doubled down. Or quadrupled down. Now, it was me AND my three brothers who were lying in front of my parent’s bed, watching every grueling game of the 2004 playoffs. Big Papi’s walk-off in the ALDS against the Angels. Going 0-3 down to the Evil Empire once again. The miraculous comeback. The curse finally being reversed. Honestly, I don’t remember watching the games much, but clearly, I was hooked because what I do remember was being glued to the television come Opening Day at Fenway Park in 2005, listening to Don and Jerry talk over the ring ceremony. Since then, I’ve been that stereotypical, lifelong, extremely superstitious Red Sox fan.

Back to the real origin story. My parents decided to use my newfound love for baseball as a teaching opportunity for me and my brothers. We did Yahoo Fantasy Baseball as a family, the only winner I ever remember being my mom. That at least taught us a little about the statistics of baseball, whether I knew how to set my lineup, make trades, or waiver claims. Then, every August, we would combine all of that knowledge and do something a little special with our allowance money. At the beginning of the month, we would give our parents one Red Sox statistic we’d like to track and how many dollars of our allowance we’d like to assign to it. $1 for every David Ortiz homer in August. $2 for every strikeout from Josh Beckett. $3 for every double hit by Mike Lowell. We’d keep tabs after every game, running up totals, whether the baseball was extraordinary like in 2007 or terrible like in 2012. Once the Jimmy Fund telethon hit, the tab was calculated, taken out of our allowances, and donated.

When I was young, I just remember it being fun, almost a challenge to pick the right statistic, the one that would get more hits than my brothers. . . without bankrupting my allowance. As I got I older and my love of the game continued to grow, it honestly taught me a lot more. Donating stopped becoming about just having fun and picking statistics. It became about doing something good. For 36 hours it stopped being about a win or a loss, and it became about watching a community come together for the greater good. I felt this sudden responsibility to help. Watching the telethon, listening to stories of families who’ve had to deal with so much more than losing a half-game in the standings, admiring the strength of those who fight and have fought. I had to do my part to give every year, no matter what.

Once I was old enough to no longer need an allowance, I’d still find ways to donate, even a little money. For the bar mitzvahs my brothers and I had, instead of receiving personal gifts, we took the opportunity to raise money for causes that were near and dear to each of us. I’m lucky to have a twin who joined me in raising money for The Jimmy Fund that year. I’m grateful to have such a supportive network of family and friends who pitched in. High school came and went and I still found ways to donate a little, even if it was coming from my parents.

The donation that changed me most recently occurred once I got my first full-time job. I upped the amount I donated. Why? Because I could. I still felt that duty to call every year, to do good, to be a part of that community that comes together to do that good. But now, I had control over how much I could contribute. My emotional connection to donating every year now combined with a fiduciary duty to make sure I always had the amount of money I wanted to donate.

I’m writing this not to be a mouthpiece for the Red Sox or the Jimmy Fund. If you choose to donate, give however much or little that makes you happy. If you don’t, that’s always a personal decision. I put this out in the world because for me, this stretch of 36 hours is not about baseball. Was last night’s loss demoralizing? Sure, it’s not great for the Red Sox’s playoff chances in the least bit. But, I’m still smiling because I made sure yesterday afternoon to pick up the phone and continue something that’s been instilled in me since I was little. The rest of the season will certainly be as wild a roller coaster as the year has been so far. At least just for tomorrow though, let’s all focus on and do something a little good.