October 16, 2000
On Aug. 26, a group of fourteen enthusiastic baseball fans traveled on a pilgrimage to venerable Fenway Park in Boston.
They did not go to watch the famed Red Sox play; rather, each of them stepped up to the plate against cancer to try their luck at hitting a baseball over the famed 37- foot wall known as the Green Monster.
They participated in the ninth annual Fantasy Day for the Jimmy Fund to benefit children's cancer research at the Dana Farber Institute.
The Jimmy Fund is the official charity of the Boston Red Sox. What made this year's event unique was the number of participants this group assembled.
Consisting of long-time friends and family members, the team traveled from all sectors of the U.S. to unify for this cause.
Included in the group were Woodinville resident David Jaffe, Executive Director of Harborview Medical Center, and his thirteen-year-old son Andrew, who both participated in Fantasy Day for the first time.
"My son actually went last year, but the event got rained out," explains Jaffe. "We both decided to go together this year. It's something we've wanted to do for awhile because of several reasons. The element of the cause is the main reason.
"A brother-in-law of mine, Padraic Lawler, died a few years ago, at a young age, of cancer, and fighting this disease has become a family tradition.
"We wanted to do this in memory of Padraic. The other reason has to do with our love of baseball. My son and I are true die-hard fans of the sport and Fenway Park is such a historic place for baseball.
"It was a great opportunity to visit the park and participate in an important cause."
The team was organized by Jaffe's brother-in-law, Justin Burke of Darien, Connecticut. Each participant raised a minimum of $1,500 to get the chance to hit fifteen pitches over the Green Monster.
Event sponsor John Hancock donated $2,000 for each ball hit over the wall and $1,000 for each ball hit against the wall.
This year's event netted more than a quarter of a million dollars. Jaffe's team raised over $25,000.
Three balls were hit against the Monster and a trio of young cousins, aged 8-13, hit more than half of their pitches, 24 of 45 balls at $100 for each ball into the outfield.
"Andrew and I trained for this event over the past year," says Jaffe. "We took it seriously and even took some batting lessons from an AAA player.
"I didn't want to embarrass myself when I got up to bat against sixty-mile-an hour pitching. Andrew raised $1,300 with his hitting alone. He was great! He's definitely better than I am at hitting the ball."
For both Jaffe and his son, the experience was memorable and filled with much camaraderie and special moments.
They toured Fenway Park, changed in the locker rooms of the Red Sox, saw their names on the scoreboard and got to run along the warning track of the field.
"It was really fun to be at Fenway," comments Andrew. "It's where so many of the famous old-timers played. There's such history at that park. I was so glad I could take part in the event because it was for such a good cause. I wanted to do something to help people with cancer as a way to remember my uncle."
Andrew's favorite sport is baseball and he plays center field on his league team.
He says, "I like diving, running and catching the balls, especially making the game-saving catches. Baseball is a true team sport and I like it because you can feel the support of the other eight players when you play."
Both Jaffe and his son plan to participate in Fantasy Day next year.
"I think we will join with the rest of the family in making this our tradition," comments Jaffe. "It is such a worthwhile endeavor and a great experience."