BOSTON -- As fans entered Fenway Park on Thursday, a pregame message on the Green Monster's manually operated scoreboard symbolized a cause much larger than the game of baseball.
"Jimmy Fund" donned the famous wall, reminding everyone gathering for a baseball game about the seventh annual WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon taking place over a 36-hour period on Thursday and Friday.
The telethon, which raises money toward adult and pediatric cancer research and care at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, is on a quest to raise $4 million over that time period, and it's making a fast start. By the time the Red Sox began their tilt with the Rangers at 7:05 p.m. ET, the telethon already produced $1,006,515.
Bill Cosby made a special appearance at Fenway prior to the contest, throwing out the ceremonial first pitch in honor of the cause. Foxboro native and pop singer Jo-Jo performed the national anthem.
Festivities began early, with an afternoon luncheon and guest sports panel gathering at the State Street Pavilion at noon. An estimated 170 guests took part in the event, which started with lunch and followed with an opportunity for those taking part to ask questions to the Celtics' Glen Davis, Bruins legend Ray Bourque and Sox pitcher Curt Schilling at 1 p.m.
The telethon anchored itself at the WEEI studio near Gate C in Fenway Park's concourse, but its purpose reached out well beyond the Boston city limits. And true to form, celebrities took part early in the telethon's goings.
Before the beginning of Thursday's game, Sox manager Terry Francona personally delivered a donation to the WEEI studio. Others donating were Donald Trump (who gave $50,000) and actor Mike O'Malley ($10,000).
Actor Tony Danza, comedians Kevin Nealon and Steven Wright, conductor Keith Lockhart of the Boston Pops and actor John O'Hurley also reached out to the telethon in the early stages.
Mark Remme is associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.