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As St. Jude nears its 50th anniversary, a symbolic willow oak tree was planted on the hospital’s campus November 2 to commemorate the original groundbreaking ceremony in 1958 and to serve as the official on-campus kick-off to the anniversary celebration.
The St. Jude Family Tree was planted in the circle drive of the Integrated Research Center building during a ceremony that honored the hospital’s five decades while also acknowledging employees for their continued commitment to the hospital’s mission, and quality, innovation, collaboration and compassion that make such a difference to patients and families.
“As we celebrate the on-campus kick-off to the 50th anniversary of St. Jude, I’m proud to think of how far we’ve come, how much we’ve progressed as a national resource, and the amount of new knowledge we’ve generated about childhood cancers and the other diseases we treat,” said Dr. William E. Evans, St. Jude director and CEO. “This tree is a great symbol of the St. Jude family. Like Danny’s dream of building St. Jude, this tree behind me started off as a seedling. To get this tree to grow and flourish, it needed support, dedication, nurturing, focus—like St. Jude did in those early years. The strength of a tree is in its roots, and the roots of St. Jude and ALSAC run deep."
Evans and ALSAC CEO Richard C. Shadyac Jr. discussed the hospital’s early history, their unique ties to St. Jude and the significance of the November 2, 1958, groundbreaking. An abandoned building sat on the future site of St. Jude. With the cooperation of the fire department, St. Jude founder Danny Thomas started the fire that cleared the land and preceded the 1958 groundbreaking.