St. Jude Thanks and Giving: 10 Years Young

St. Jude Thanks and Giving: 10 years young
Brian Quinlan participated in St. Jude Thanks and Giving at age 4.
Today, he is a healthy and active teenager.

A decade after Marlo, Terre and Tony Thomas created the St. Jude Thanks and Giving® campaign, more individuals and companies than ever are embracing the hospital’s mission.

During the first St. Jude Thanks and Giving® campaign 10 years ago, millions of Americans watched Brian Quinlan, age 4, sit on the floor of the Medicine Room and explain to Marlo Thomas why he was at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“My body got sick. The circles inside it were not working,” the curly-haired boy said in one of the first segments featured on NBC’s TODAY show. The segment was promoting a unique campaign, which to date has raised more than $387 million for the children of St. Jude.

Created by Marlo, Terre and Tony Thomas, the children of St. Jude founder Danny Thomas, St. Jude Thanks and Giving unites more than 60 brands nation- wide that encourage customers to give to St. Jude through add-ons at the register or by purchasing specialty merchandise during the holiday season.

Marking a milestone

Brian was early in treatment when TODAY show viewers met him. Diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in September 2004, he appeared on the program that November.

Fast forward 10 years, and Brian is healthy and active. Last year, he was recognized as the most valuable player on his school’s flag football team. He also enjoys Boy Scouts, skim-boarding and basketball.

More importantly, Brian has passed a milestone for childhood cancer survivors—being cancer-free five years after completing treatment.

“That was the big moment in our lives,” says Nancy Quinlan of the checkup her son had at the end of 2012. “We had never used the ‘cured’ word. We were so happy.”

Delivering hope

Thanks to the research and treatment at St. Jude, families worldwide have fought childhood cancer and have found cures.

Families like the Quinlans never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food because most of the hospital’s funding comes from generous supporters like those who donate through campaigns like St. Jude Thanks and Giving.

That kind of support meant a lot to the Quinlans, who moved with sons Brian and Brendan to St. Jude for treatment for several months and then traveled between Memphis and Florida for three years to complete Brian’s chemotherapy.

“I am so grateful to the wonderful partners who have come together during these last 10 years for our St. Jude Thanks and Giving campaign,” says St. Jude National Outreach Director Marlo Thomas. “Their support helps ensure that St. Jude can continue the lifesaving research and care that brings hope to families like Brian’s. It is so inspiring to see him and other St. Jude patients happy and healthy after treatment, bringing us closer to the day when my father’s dream—that no child shall die in the dawn of life—becomes a reality.”

Partners in the journey

Corporate partners for St. Jude Thanks and Giving include Kmart, CVS/Pharmacy, ANN INC., DICK’s Sporting Goods, Kay Jewelers, Target, GNC, Williams-Sonoma, Domino’s Pizza and many more. Top fundraising partner Kmart raised an all-time record of more than $7.6 million in the 2012 campaign. To date, new partners this year include Best Buy, Justice, Haggar, Tommy Hilfiger and Christopher & Banks.

Marlo Thomas and St. Jude patients encourage you to get involved.

Marlo Thomas and St. Jude patients encourage you to get involved:

  • SHOP wherever you see the St. Jude logo.
  • VISIT to make a donation or send e-cards.
  • JOIN the campaign on Facebook and Twitter.

Beginning in November, shoppers will see the St. Jude logo identifying these and other retailers who are joining forces to save children fighting cancer and other life-threatening diseases. These companies will help raise donations to support the hospital.

Each year, TV spots for the campaign feature patients with Marlo Thomas and celebrity friends. This year, those spots will include Jennifer Aniston, Robin Williams, Shaun White, Sofia Vergara, Michael Strahan and Latin GRAMMY® winner Luis Fonsi.

In addition, the celebrities are featured in a movie trailer that shares the St. Jude story nationwide in theaters, including Regal Entertainment Group, Cinemark USA, Carmike Cinemas and many others.

The fundraising efforts are reinforced with a national media blitz that includes TV appearances by Marlo and St. Jude patients. For the tenth straight year, in what has become a holiday tradition, Marlo will appear on NBC’s TODAY show for five consecutive days during Thanksgiving week to share heartwarming stories about St. Jude patients and the hospital’s work.

Stories like Brian’s.

For the Florida teenager, passing the five-year, cancer-free milestone means he can focus all his energies on the activities he loves free of worry.

How to get involved

The Quinlans continue to support St. Jude at fundraising events, and Nancy is chair of the St. Jude Give thanks. Walk™ this year in Palm Beach County, Florida.

On November 23, 75 communities nationwide will participate in this noncompetitive 5K to raise funds for St. Jude. Since the event began in 2010, it has raised $11 million and has become the official kick-off for the St. Jude Thanks and Giving campaign. Registration is open at

It’s easy to get involved with St. Jude Thanks and Giving. Shop wherever you see the St. Jude logo. Visit to make a donation or send e-cards in honor or memory of loved ones, and join the campaign on Facebook and Twitter.

Abridged from Promise, Autumn 2013

Donate Now Subscribe to Promise

Comment on this article.