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The Journals are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Feb 25, 2020

JAR of Hope, Racing to Find a Cure

By Deirdre Flanagan Ward

Jim and Jamesy Raffone. Photo courtesy of Rough Edge Media

Monmouth County resident Jim Raffone was a family man, mason contractor and successful business owner who was enjoying life when his son’s terminal diagnosis set his world on a different trajectory.

In 2013, Raffone’s 4-year-old son, James “Jamesy” Anthony Raffone, was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), a severe type of muscular dystrophy characterized by progressive muscle degeneration and weakness. While there is no cure, Raffone took it upon himself to find some answers for his son. He ended up selling his business in 2015 to start a study with University of Minnesota while also taking on the mission to raise awareness.

“This is the true life story of the underdog, who just happens to be my son, who’s suffering from a disease,” Raffone said. “It all comes down to a father’s affection and his desperate attempt to do anything to save his son’s life.”

In an effort to reverse the seemingly insurmountable odds against Jamesy, Raffone created the JAR of Hope foundation, named in honor of his son.

Photos courtesy of Rough Edge Media

The mission of the foundation is raise awareness and funding for ongoing research in the hope of eliminating DMD and to give children, just like Jamesy, the chance to beat a disease that currently has no cure.

Among the various ways the foundation raises funds is through marathons in which Raffone actively participates. Ironically, before Jamesy was diagnosed, his father never ran marathons, since his own health was somewhat compromised. He suffered from two herniated disks, a heart condition as a result of search-and-rescue volunteering on and after Sept. 11, and he had a torn meniscus.

“My friends and family thought I was crazy to think I could run races to raise awareness, but as everyone knows, my ailments take a backseat to my son,” he said.

So far, Raffone has participated in runs 63 out of the past 73 months, visited 117 gyms globally for his $10 for 10 Pushups Campaign, and has a packed calendar ahead with many of the trips self-financed.

On Feb. 9, he ran the Miami Marathon. On Feb. 13, he traveled to New Zealand to compete in a 205-mile, seven-day race. He then flew to Australia to complete 100 miles in five days, all while crushing push-ups along the way. On Sunday, March 15, he will fly to Ireland for more push-up challenges. During April and May, he will be prepping for The Great New York 100 Mile/100KM Running Exposition which takes place in June. Come July and August, he will prepare for his fifth start at the G2GUltra, a 171.4-mile race in the desert. Then in November, the month of giving, he will be running his seventh NYC Marathon with more than 100 teammates. Following that, he will be hosting the Inaugural NJ Trail Fest which will be open to the public and will feature a 5K, 10K, half marathon, full marathon and 50K course.

Photos courtesy of Rough Edge Media

“The local community has rallied behind JAR of Hope in a tremendous way,” he said. “We wouldn’t be anywhere without the help and support we’ve gotten from Randi Leib over at THE MAX Challenge of Marlboro. CKO was another fitness facility that really supported JAR of Hope. Landmark 360 Healthcare Communications Firm built our website and created marketing material. Howard Klein, a very generous business owner, gave a lot of donations to our charity. A good friend of mine, Joe Russo from The Moving Guys, ran alongside me. Anthony from Sets and Buro from Full Dimension Crossfit are amazing people who stepped up to show their support and generosity.”

While Raffone confesses there is no real down time for him and his “TeamJamesy 24/7,” as he calls his cause, the race to find a cure is worth every second.

“My perfect day would be when I am able to play a game of catch with my son. Until then, we continue to fight.”

For more information on JAR of Hope, visit JARofHope.org.