Child's Play

A perspective by Hill Harper

Perspective: Child’s play
Actor Hill Harper plays a game of skill, coordination and concentration
with St. Jude patient Courtney Davis.

A simple game played with a St. Jude patient evokes deep emotion and a determination to help.

When I visited St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital a couple of years ago, I was blown away by how creatively the hospital is organized. The environment is welcoming and loving, from the moment you walk through the doors.

But my most memorable moment came during a game of Jenga®—the game where you remove pieces of wood from a tower until everything falls down.

I was playing with a little girl who was a patient at the hospital. We were talking about what she was going through—and we were laughing and joking and having fun.

This young lady was actually a really good Jenga player—much better than I was. Because I had recently been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, I knew how difficult and frightening and life changing the experience could be for an adult. So I couldn’t imagine how courageous and strong this little girl and her parents had to be. It just opened up my heart and blew my mind away.

Playing Jenga with this young woman at St. Jude reminded me of one of my favorite quotes by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “We are all tied together in a garment of mutual destiny.”

To me, that means no matter how well I may be doing in Hollywood or no matter how well CSI: NY may do in the ratings, if there’s a young girl at St. Jude who’s not doing well, then I’m not doing well.

We’re all in this together.

The work that St. Jude is doing and the people who support the hospital’s mission represent that concept beautifully. And I couldn’t be happier to be a proponent of that.

I was in the midst of writing The Wealth Cure, a book about financial literacy, when I was diagnosed with my thyroid cancer. It really made me focus on what creates true wealth in our lives.

At the end of the day, what I discovered through my journey with cancer was that true wealth is our health. Our future is our children. If we buy into this idea that health is most important, then figuring out a way to solve the biggest health challenges facing our children should be our No. 1 mission.

That’s exactly what St. Jude does. And that’s where our focus and our support should go first and foremost.

I’m proud to support St. Jude. That’s why I’m going to polish up my Jenga skills … and then return for another visit.

An alumnus of Harvard Law School, actor Hill Harper is the author of four books. He portrays Sheldon Hawkes, MD, in the CBS drama CSI: NY.


Abridged from Promise, Spring 2013

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