I recently had the opportunity to attend the annual St. Jude Celebration of Hope event in Memphis, TN. This was a weekend-long hosted event, including a host of celebrity and media ambassadors of St. Jude. We got to tour the facilities, hang out with some patients and learn all about the incredible progress being made with the help of contributions made to the organization.
St. Jude is an organization I’ve known about since I was a little girl watching the St. Jude commercials on TV. The founder, Danny Thomas was a Lebanese man like my maternal grandfather and my mother would always remark about how much he reminded her of my grandpa. As much as I watched the commercials and learned about the mission of St. Jude, I have always had it in my heart that if I ever had a chance to contribute to the growth and success of any charity organization, St. Jude would be among the top of my list.
Here’s an interesting tidbit about how and why Danny Thomas started St. Jude: His wife had Judy had their first child and, as a struggling actor, he could not afford to get them out. It was then that he said a prayer to none other than St. Jude that if God could find a way for him, he would someday dedicate a shrine to him. And that shrine became what we know as St. Jude Children’s Hospital.
Hearing that story only brought everything that I personally stand for as well as the purpose behind Love, Peace, and Tiny Feet full circle. That is the fact that sometimes in life, there will be immense struggle and heartache; as as you find your blessings, you must also find a way to be a blessing to others. Now that I’m a mom, the mission of St. Jude touches my heart even more than before. Even if I *hopefully* never have to take advantage of what St. Jude has to offer, it is possibly one of the most rewarding charitable organizations I could be a part of.
What is St. Jude?
If you’ve ever turned on a TV, you’ve likely seen a St. Jude commercial. These are the ones that feature spirited young children and teens, proudly rocking their bald heads, big smiles, and eyes that beam with hope.
For those of you who are unfamiliar, St. Jude is the leading research hospitals in the country. The team is dedicated to finding a cure for cancer and and sickle cell and increasing survival rates among children diagnosed. Since its inception, childhood cancer survival rates have increased from 20% to 80% and the mission of St. Jude is to not stop until absolutely no children die from cancer.
St. Jude Donations
What’s particularly notable about St. Jude is the fact that St. Jude Families never receive a bill for treatment, travel, housing or food – under the ideal that all a family should worry about is helping their child live. This is all done with the help of donations and sponsors.
Many of the funds donated to St. Jude go toward helping these families lead as much of a normal life as possible. When a family member is diagnosed with cancer, life for the entire family changes as you know it. Particularly if the family member is receiving treatment outside of their hometown, travel and lodging expenses can easily get out of control. To help these families, St. Jude has, with the help of sponsors, built homes to accommodate these families.
The Target House at St. Jude
The Target House is an example of this. It’s essentially an assisted living apartment building, where each family had its own fully equipped and furnished 2 bedroom apartment. The building also has some of the most incredible shared living areas in the house that honestly have to be some of the most well thought out and craftily designed rooms I’ve ever seen. Plus, they’ve literally thought of everything! There’s a music room donated by Amy Grant, arts and crafts room, animation room by Dreamworks, laundry, playroom, playground, and many more!
St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital
The facility was recently renamed to include research hospital to reflect the incredible work they’ve been doing and continue to do toward finding a cure for both cancer and sickle cell. I mentioned earlier that thanks to the research St. Jude has done, childhood cancer survival rates have increased from 20% to 80%. Additionally, it was a St. Jude patient who was the first in the world to be cured of sickle cell anemia through a stem cell/bone marrow transplant. They continue to research these two diseases and are working hard towards finding cures and saving lives.
I had a chance to tour the actual hospital, which is an absolute must for anyone! While a lot of hospitals can be quite depressing to even set foot in, St. Jude is quite the opposite. One of the coolest things about the design of the hospital is that beautiful murals cover each section to reflect the 4 seasons, particularly important for patients who never get to leave the hospital during treatment. Here are some more pics from the hospital and the Celebration of Hope weekend:
Visit Stjude.org to learn how you can help St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital fight childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases.