JOE AND KATHY O’DONNELL could have done many different things after their first child, Joey, drew his final, labored breath and succumbed to the disease, cystic fibrosis, that had plagued him all 12 years of his life. They could have cursed their fate, then and forever. They could have banished the very name of that dreadful illness from their vocabulary. They could have simply become different people, harder people, and moved on.
But they didn’t. It’s not their way. Even before Joey died in 1986, Joe O’Donnell began raising money to battle cystic fibrosis, not so much to help his son, but to help those he didn’t know. After Joey died, he launched the Joey Fund, bringing in many millions of dollars at annual movie screenings, hot dog festivals, and bowling nights.