(Photo by Johanna Kaiser for boston.com)
The 31st annual Jimmy Fund Scooper Bowl kicked off Tuesday with gallons of ice cream ready to be eaten and a ribbon cutting ceremony led by a Beacon Hill boy and patient at the Jimmy Fund Clinic at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Nine-year-old Bennett Olson, of Beacon Hill, opened the gates to the event on City Hall Plaza with the snip of a purple ribbon and to the cheers of friends, families, and fellow ice cream lovers.
“It was a little bit harder than I thought because I had to push down really hard to cut it,” Bennett said of the experience, after eating his first scoop of double fudge brownie ice cream. “It was fun.”
The three-day event, which will run through Thursday, is considered the largest all-you-can-eat ice cream festival in the in country. Ice cream vendors serve 1,200 gallons of ice cream and frozen yogurt, and the event has raised more than $3.5 million for Jimmy Fund.
The Jimmy Fund supports Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute by raising funds for adult and pediatric cancer care and research to improve the chances of survival for cancer patients around the world.
Bennett, a third grader at Mount Alvernia Academy in Chestnut Hill, was diagnosed with high risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia in June 2012. He said he likes the work the Jimmy Fund does because “the medicine that helps me get better.” He is expected to finish treatment June 2014.
But on Tuesday, Bennett’s focus was on the more than 30 flavors of ice cream and frozen yogurt being served.
“I’m going to really enjoy it,” said Bennett, who was joined by his mother, father, and older sister.
His father, Ken Olson, said Bennett has enjoyed participating in Jimmy Fund events and has also been singing the new Jimmy Fund Chorus.
“It’s been a good experience for him and it keeps his mind off of all of the treatment and all that bad stuff,” Olson said. “He’s the type of kid who even his through treatment for leukemia has been pretty upbeat and has had a lot of enthusiasm.”
Olson said he was glad to see people supporting The Jimmy Fund at the Scooper Bowl, which last year drew in more than 40,000 attendees.
“You do realize the need, but you don’t realize the magnitude of the need until you’re actually in treatment and realize all that it takes. …There’s a lot of staff time that goes into it, a lot of doctor time, a lot of medicines are taken,” he said. “You just don’t realize how much the need is.”
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