By Cary Shuman
Joe O’Donnell and Kathy O’Donnell hosted the 33rd Annual Joey O’Donnell Film Premiere Sunday night at the Natick Mall and AMC Theatre, Framingham.
The event benefitting The Joey Fund and Cystic Fibrosis Foundation raised $1 million.
Joey O’Donnell, son of Joe and Kathy O’Donnell, died in 1986 from the disease, cystic fibrosis. Through the years, the Film Premiere and other Joey Fund events have contributed more than $100 million to advance the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s quest to cure CF and improve the quality of life for those with the disease.
Guests at the event praised Joe O’Donnell, a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Business School and a highly successful businessman, for his tremendous efforts on behalf of the cause of finding a cure for cystic fibrosis.
Said longtime Eddie Andelman of sports radio fame, “Joe and Kathy O’Donnell lost their son, Joey to cystic fibrosis. They have dedicated their lives to helping find a cure. This disease will be beaten. God did the right thing putting Joe and Kathy O’Donnell on this earth.”
Channel 5 sportscaster Mike Lynch also spoke highly of his fellow Harvard alumnus.
“I knew Joey O’Donnell very well and I remember when he died in 1986,” said Lynch. “It was a terrible loss. Joe and Kathy O’Donnell just jumped right in with both feet and have both raised not only money but they have raised hope and saved and extended the lives of countless young boys and girls and adults with cystic fibrosis.
“Joe O’Donnell has been a relentless proponent of cystic fibrosis ever since Joey died and the fight goes on. We all look forward to the day when we don’t have to have these events anymore because a cure will be found for cystic fibrosis.”
Lynch said he played baseball against O’Donnell in the Intercity League when he was with the Winchester Merchants and O’Donnell was with the Hosmer Chiefs.
“Joe was a really good baseball player and if you don’t believe me, just ask him,” said Lynch with a smile.
The baseball field at Harvard is named the Joseph O’Donnell Field.