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Collegians, wristbands, Lester's name help cause

BOSTON — When five young women from New England colleges joined in September to form The Lester Project, their goal was to sell 200 silicone wristbands and raise $1,000 for the Jimmy Fund.

Eight months later, the project, named for Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester, has sold more than 1,500 bracelets and generated more than $12,000 for the Jimmy Fund, a Boston charity that has been popular with Red Sox fans since the post-World War II playing days of Ted Williams.

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"Never did we expect anything like this," says Christine Yandow, a sophomore at Boston's Emmanuel College.

The day Lester revealed he had anaplastic large-cell lymphoma, Yandow and the other women were communicating online.

"We were just discussing it, and we thought we should do something for Jon to raise money in his name," says Courtney Smith of Thomaston, Conn., who will attend the University of Maine next fall. "Someone brought up Lance Armstrong and his bracelets."

Within weeks, a website, thelesterproject.com, had been created by Yandow, Smith, Amanda Davis of Northeastern, Casey Lennon of Framingham (Mass.) State College and Kayte Eddy of Boston's Fisher College. The red elastic bracelets with the words "Striking Out Cancer" etched on one side sell for $6. Lester wears one. So do several Red Sox players and about 50 members of Lester's family.

None of the women had met Lester until this month. But after Boston's 8-7 victory against Seattle at Fenway Park on May 3, Yandow and Lennon spotted the left-hander in the players' parking lot and got his attention.

"It was very exciting," Yandow says. "He just thanked us for everything we did. He said he couldn't believe how big the project was. He was grateful that we were able to accomplish something so cool."

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