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Brian McGrory

Driven by loss, father inspires tireless pursuit of a cure

It would have been hard to imagine that any good could ever follow that Sunday afternoon at Massachusetts General Hospital when years had dwindled to months and months had given way to minutes and Joe and Kathy O’Donnell held their only child, Joey, while he shut his eyes, drew a final, quiet breath, and died.

Some parents would have been defined by this loss, understandably so. Joe and Kathy O’Donnell chose a different route. They were driven by it, driven across years that fed into decades, driven to every corner of the country, driven to play some meaningful role in chasing down the despicable disease, cystic fibrosis, that robbed them of their dreams.

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