the magic bean




























Matt Ramsden and his son Jack, 2, at the beach. Courtesy photo


·  ·  ·  Posted Apr. 3, 2014 @ 2:26 pm


By Anne-Marie Smolski

On April 21, many Boston Marathon runners will be making the 26.2-mile trek from Hopkinton to Boston for a charitable cause. What follows are stories about runners with Wellesley connections and the people they love.

Matt Ramsden

When Matt Ramsden sent out an email looking for fundraising support from friends, family and acquaintances he titled it "I’m Running the Boston Marathon." He went on to say, "You read that subject line correctly."  One piece of advice he had read about training for a first marathon is to tell others what you plan to do. That way you will feel committed to do it.

"I would not describe myself as having a marathon runner’s physique," he said while talking to the Townsman during a recent interview. He says he’s a regular dad who wanted to do something for his family and for his son Jack, who died of a rare pediatric cancer, neuroblastoma.

Diagnosed with the condition 10 years ago, when he was just 7 months old, for two years Jack endured many rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, two stem cell transplants and more. During this time, his dad said, "he was the happiest, sweetest little boy. He never complained about anything and smiled at everyone he met. I miss him every day."

Matt’s wife Linda and he started Jack’s Magic Bean Fund to honor their son’s memory. So far, they have raised more than $300,000 for the children and families of pediatric cancer.  Their fund is five years old. Their biggest fundraiser is an annual bike ride called Training Wheels that begins and ends in Wellesley. They also partnered with Longwood Symphony last year and raised $50,000.

Through Jack’s Magic Bean Fund they started an endowment fund for Camp Sunshine, a retreat camp in Maine that supports children and families with life-threatening illnesses. The Ramsden family went to the camp themselves after Jack died for a bereavement program they offer to families who have lost a child. "We went there for a number of sessions, and it was extremely helpful for our family," Matt said.  They committed $100,000 to Camp Sunshine, which was matched by another organization. They also support research for the toughest childhood cancers. Matt said a lot of childhood cancers are extremely aggressive, but because they are rare there is not a lot of research into them.

At the Newman-Lakka Institute at Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center, Matt said, they’re trying to come up with tailored, personalized therapies for specific cancer types so it will be a lot more successful and a lot less toxic to the children. Jack’s Magic Bean Fund supports that research.

The foundation not only honors Jack, but it helps his family deal with their situation. "We started the foundation really because we have to have some way to have some good to come out of what was a terrible, tragic situation," Matt said. In addition to honoring their son, it keeps Jack’s memory alive while also helping other families.  "There is a need because Boston doesn’t actually have a pediatric cancer fund," Matt said.

When Matt learned that the Town of Wellesley had some Boston Marathon numbers available, he found the forms online and filled them out "almost on a whim," to see if they wanted to give him a number for Jack’s Magic Bean Fund. He succeeded in obtaining a number, and saw that as another opportunity to raise awareness and money for the foundation.

Matt’s fundraising goal was $5,000, and he’s so close to reaching it that now he’d like to exceed it.  The fundraising has been easier than the training during this long, cold winter. Except for a group training run the weekend before last, Matt’s been running on his own.

He did a half-marathon once and said it was hard. Occasionally he’s run between three and five miles, he said, but "this is the hardest physical challenge I’ve ever undertaken," Matt said. He’s determined to finish.

His wife, Linda, and their children, Emma, Alex, Lucy and Jude, will be watching for him and cheering him on in Wellesley on April 21. "Their job is to get me from half way to the other end," Matt said.

He’s been thinking a lot about his son Jack, since it was 10 years ago this spring that he was diagnosed with cancer. He said it’s a personal journey to reach the end of the marathon for Jack and his foundation.

"Jack will push me up the hills; he will see me through. There is no way I am not finishing this," Matt said.

To support Matt Ramsden visit To learn more about Jack’s Magic Bean Fund visit









John T. Gorman Foundation and Jack's Magic Bean Fund

As you may recall from our recent Momentum Endowment & Capital Campaign Newsletter, the John T. Gorman Foundation offered Camp Sunshine a generous matching challenge in 2010, where the Foundation would match all donations of $25,000 and above to Camp Sunshine, up to a total of $250,000.  Well we are pleased to announce that, thanks to another gift of $50,000 from Jack's Magic Bean Fund and the Ramsden Family, the Gorman Foundation matching challenge is complete. 

This latest gift brings Jack's Magic Bean Fund's total support of the challenge to $100,000.  It also brings Camp Sunshine's Let the Sun Shine All Year $14.5 Million Endowment & Capital Campaign total to $10,571,000.

"The successful completion of this matching challenge is a reflection of Camp Sunshine's strength as an organization, and the importance of the support it provides to families of children with life-threatening illnesses," said Shawn Gorman, president of the John T. Gorman Foundation.  "Our gift, and the funds raised through our challenge, will endow 20 family sponsorships in perpetuity, providing the resources to help families connect and support each other for years to come."

"It is our absolute pleasure (and honor) to be able to help a place that has helped us so much," said Matt and Linda Ramsden.  "This December makes 5 years since our son Jack left this world behind, and in that time we have continued to live because of the role Camp has played in our lives.  We have been emotionally present for our surviving children and have watched with such joy as they grow into the coolest, most compassionate young ladies.  We have welcomed new children into our family, both biologically and through adoption, neither of which would have been fathomable without the healing of Camp.  We have continued to prosper in our professional lives and have created a nonprofit to honor our child and others like him.  We can't even begin to imagine what the past five years might have brought without the bereavement program at Camp Sunshine.  We want to ensure that this program is there for future families as it has been there for ours.  We suffered from a loss that cripples and buries whole families each and every year.  These families are forgotten by each and every other organization that once cared for them.  They had support taken away from them, offers for magical wish trips retracted, all of this on top of the ultimate loss of experiencing the death of a child.  The surviving children, the real unsung heroes, are told that they won't be going to Disney, or wherever, because their brother or sister died.  There is simply no other organization that cares for grieving families the way that Camp Sunshine does.  It was the one place that my kids felt welcomed, after falling off of all the other mailing lists.  I don't know if anyone really understands what it is like for a newly bereaved family, what the transition 'off-treatment' is like for families that lose everything in a single instant.  All of the support, all of the care -- none of it exists in bereavement.  No single organization has made it their mission, nor has any other Ramsdenorganization understood this to be a family experience.  So we feel very fortunate to have lived so close and to have soaked up as much Sunshine as we have."

With Love,
The Ramsden Family







Loss of son to tumor inspires Wellesley family to help others

GateHouse News Service
Posted Aug 27, 2009 @ 11:33 AM

Wellesley —
Two-year-old Jack Ramsden was a charmer who never missed a chance to tell those around him how he felt about them. “Jack told us and his caregivers that he loved us all the time,” said Linda Ramsden, Jack’s mother.

 Helping Jack’s magic beans grow

Donations to the Jack’s Magic Bean Fund can be made online at

Those who donate $50 or more will be entered into a raffle for two tickets to the sold-out U2 concert at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 20.

He continued to be a spirited, affectionate child even after he was diagnosed in 2004 with neuroblastoma, a rare and aggressive form of pediatric cancer. “Jack was simply one of the coolest kids you could ever hope to meet. He lived large in his 28 months on this planet and really made the most of every moment,” Linda said.

Jack’s last months were tough on both him and his family. He underwent low-dose and high-dose chemotherapy, surgery, radiation and other treatments until he passed on in December 2005 at age 2 years, four months and four days.

This experience made Linda and her husband, Matt, who live on Walnut Street, take a step back and evaluate what pediatric cancer is doing to families across the nation. “How you view your family, how precious it all becomes. Jack left us with many lessons in life. We’ve learnt a lot about what these families need,” Linda said.

To honor Jack’s memory, the Ramsden family last year set up a luminary display at Warren Park on the anniversary of Jack’s death. Held on Dec. 12, it raised awareness of the illness, as well as $8,000 in donations.

With the success of 12th Night, the Ramsdens have taken on a new mission: starting a fund in Jack’s name. Jack’s Magic Bean Fund was launched on Aug. 8, in honor of what would have been his sixth birthday, using funds generated from 12th Night. “We were looking to have $10,000 in seed money, and 12th Night did that for us. So we were very happy and we’re looking to really watch it blossom,” Linda said.

Jack’s Magic Bean Fund, “fighting cancer in young human beans,” offers bereavement support, research into new therapies and financial aid to families trying to cope with the financial costs of the illness.

Bereavement support is the after-shock therapy parents and families attend after losing a child or sibling to pediatric cancer. “We received bereavement support after our infant son, Cian, died of neuroblastoma,” said Jennifer Crowley of Quincy. The Crowleys were devastated by the loss of their only child, who was 5 months old at diagnosis and 7 months old when he died in 2006. Bereavement support helped them face the challenge of life without him.

When Linda told her that the Ramsden family had started Jack’s Magic Bean Fund, she was excited. “I am thrilled with the work she has done with the Magic Bean Fund, and delighted she asked me to become involved with the group. I love the fact that she adopted a three-fold mission,” she said.

Crowley is now part of the promotions team at Jack’s Magic Bean. “I have 10-plus years experience in health-related PR and marketing, so I will be helping Magic Bean with promotional activities around its fundraising efforts, particularly events,” Crowley said.

She said that although she and her family “never did have the pleasure of meeting that special little boy [Jack], I had an instant connection with Linda. We talked via e-mail almost every day then decided to meet, and our families just got along wonderfully.”

“She has been a huge support in my recent life; no one understands the loss of a child like another bereaved parent. We say things to each other we would probably never say to someone else, but we know the other one just ‘gets’ it,” she added.

Neuroblastoma is a still relatively unknown form of cancer that devastates the lives of families across the nation. Rose Provencher, the fund’s official creative director, said, “getting the word out is critical in raising awareness and funds. Jack’s Magic Bean Fund has a unique and personal approach.”

“The fund looks to assist families throughout the pediatric cancer care. Not all outcomes provide a happy ending and I am so pleased that the fund has been available for families when bereavement assistance is also needed,” Provencher said.

Looking for a cure

Jack’s Magic Bean puts some of its resources into finding and funding new therapies. “Funding clinical trials across the country provides the hope for more happy endings. Fundraising is under way with the desire to support even more projects wherever they may be developing,” Provencher said. The official development director of Jack’s Magic Bean, Judith Mullaney, elaborated on the work Jack’s Magic Bean Fund has been doing in the new therapies division. “Jack’s Magic Bean Fund supports the research work on angiogenesis pioneered by Dr. Judah Folkman that is now being carried out by his team. We also support the new therapies being developed for pediatric cancer at Sloan-Kettering Memorial Cancer Center as well as the clinical trials being directed by Dr. Giselle Sholler in Vermont,” she said. “Along with the support given to individual families in treatment and numerous research studies our programs provide financial assistance to families in need that are undergoing treatment.”

Finding a cure is one of the priorities of the fund. “Pediatric cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in American children between infancy and age 15,” said Angie Martinez-Gakidis, one of the fund’s board members and a Harvard-trained cancer researcher. "We believe that pediatric cancer research should be a top priority and should be given the equivalent research effort and funding as more common adult cancers. At Jack’s Magic Bean Fund, we’re ideally suited to help in this effort as we are not associated with any institution and are thus able to fund promising research wherever it may arise.”

The fact that neuroblastomas are still incurable helps drive the Jack’s Magic Bean Fund team. No possibility will be left unexplored — as Linda Ramsden said, “Cancer doesn’t take the day off”.

The other inspiration is Jack himself, a little boy who still has a place in his family’s heart and lives. Jack loved music, Ramsden said. “I still see him doing his little dance at the luau we went to. Everyone was eating, but Jack knew that if there was music playing, especially live music, he should be dancing! To this day, whenever his favorite songs come on [like Justin Timberlake’s ‘Sexy Back’] we all start dancing, no matter where we are.”


Bringing light into the lives of others in Wellesley

Wicked Local photos by Matthew Healey
The lanterns were there as a luminary memorial to Matt and Linda's son Jack who passed away three years ago from a rare form of pediatric cancer.    
GateHouse News Service
Posted Dec 17, 2008 @ 01:51 PM
Last update Dec 17, 2008 @ 01:52 PM

Wellesley —
Wellesley was literally alight with the holiday spirit this past weekend, and hundreds, even thousands of people coping with financial and medical hardships will eventually be the beneficiaries.

On Friday evening, the Ramsden family of Walnut Street set up a luminary display in Warren Park that celebrated the life of their son, Jack, who died on Dec. 12, 2005, of neuroblastoma, a rare pediatric cancer. Jack would have been a kindergartener at Schofield this year.

“It was wonderful!” reported Linda Ramsden later. “The rain stopped and we were able to set up a large luminary display (a 100-foot dragonfly). The kids ran around with glowsticks and enjoyed hot cocoa and homemade cookies. Darlene Howland, a Wellesley native, led us in some of our son’s favorite songs and closed the night with some classics like ‘He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands’ and ‘Amazing Grace.’ It was a joyful night and a very moving celebration of life and light.”

The family plans to make this event, which raised more than $3,000, an annual tradition. The money goes toward Jack’s Magic Bean Fund, which Linda describes as “a nonprofit dedicated to fighting cancer in young human beans. It is important to note that Magic Bean is Boston’s only pediatric fund. The mission of the fund is to serve all families of pediatric cancer at all stages of the journey.

“For yesterday’s families, we support bereavement programs and sibling foundations. For today’s families, financial assistance for those in need. For tomorrow’s families, we support research facilities that are dedicated to developing new therapies.”

Recipients of this year’s campaign include: Camp Sunshine; humanized antibody research at Sloan-Kettering; a nifurtimox trial in Vermont; and holiday wish gifts for children being treated at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Boston.

The Wellesley event was one of the Twelfth Night illuminations taking place this year. There were also five other Twelfth Night events in Massachusetts, one in Maine, New Hampshire, California, and even one in the United Kingdom.

The family’s goal is to have lights across the globe by Dec. 12, 2012. “It might seem like a tall order, but anyone who doubts it just doesn’t know Jack,” Linda said.

To learn more about Jack Ramsden, go to