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Family, friends, and more than 500 other well-wishers gathered Saturday night at a surprise 65th birthday party for Jake Kennedy, who co-founded the Christmas in the City charity in 1989. The event at the Seaport Hotel brought out Governor Charlie Baker, Mayor Marty Walsh, and a host of other notables. It was emceed by Michael Felger of NBC Sports Boston and 98.5 The Sports Hub. Donations were made to the Jake Kennedy ALS Fund, which has a goal of raising $1 million for ALS research.

Christmas in the City was begun by Jake and his wife, Sparky, to help local families in need during the holidays. This December, volunteers served more than 6,000 people from dozens of homeless shelters at the 31st Christmas in the City, held at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. It took on added poignancy in 2019 because Jake Kennedy had been diagnosed with ALS, which took the lives of his father and one of his brothers. Another brother, Ratt, is also fighting ALS. Kennedy’s son, Zack, a neuroscientist at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, has dedicated himself to finding a cure for the disease.

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Jake Kennedy held a street sign that was presented by Mayor Walsh as Kennedy's wife, Sparky, looked on.
Jake Kennedy held a street sign that was presented by Mayor Walsh as Kennedy's wife, Sparky, looked on. Bill Brett for The Boston Globe