Caroline Connolly

The Kennedys Help Families in Need Every Christmas. This Year, They Have 1 More Wish

Local 'superhero' was diagnosed with ALS this year

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Every year, Jake Kennedy and his wife help thousands of families in need celebrate the holidays.  But this year, the family behind Christmas in the City has a wish of their own — to cure ALS.

"The more money raised, the better off we will be," said Sparky Kennedy.

As she sat hand in hand with her husband during their annual event on Monday, the wife and mother of three never stopped smiling. But one month ago, the holiday cheer did not come so easily when they learned from their doctor that Jake had the the fatal neurological disease that has already claimed his father, one brother and nearly another.

"It was horrible, I’m not going to lie," Sparky said. "Because he’s like a Superman to everyone."

For many, Jake is just that. Since 1989, he and his wife have attracted enough volunteers and donations to ensure homeless families and children are able to enjoy presents and fun.

"I’m a mother of four, single mother of four. It helps out a lot," said one parent, who passed by tables of gifts to select for her kids.

Now, the Kennedy family hopes the community will respond to their call. This week, they announced the Jake Kennedy ALS Fund at UMass Medical School to raise money to support ALS research.

One of Kennedy’s sons now works at the hospital, conducting research under world-renowned ALS researcher Robert H. Brown.

“It’s really, really rewarding to know that your work will go to saving peoples lives,” said Zach Kennedy.

While Kennedy’s family is hopeful the treatments and new drugs emerging on the market will, he remains unconcerned. 

“I’m the luckiest man who ever lived. And i feel so happy,” said Jake Kennedy.

If you would like to donate to the fund, please visit

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