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By Leigh Ann Roman
After more than a half century, millions of individuals continue to embrace one dream; one common goal.
“No child should die in the dawn of life.”
For more than 50 years, this deeply held belief of one devoted man has inspired and united people from all walks of life behind the mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Danny Thomas’ vision and dream has become a rallying cry for people young and old.
Business executives such as Mike Tamer, a successful candy wholesaler from Indianapolis, responded to this plea from the heart. Tamer gave up his business to become the first national executive director of ALSAC, which united Americans of Arabic heritage to raise funds for the hospital’s operating expenses.
Children such as Ann Hill answered Thomas’ call. At 11, Hill raised more than $1,100 for St. Jude with a lemonade stand. Although confined to a wheelchair because of a rare disease, she became the volunteer chairman for ALSAC in Mississippi, raising almost $150,000 for St. Jude before her death at 25.
Celebrities such as Dinah Shore, Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra embraced the dream, offering their talents to raise money at galas such as the St. Jude Shower of Stars. Today, Shaun White, Robin Williams, George Lopez, Jennifer Aniston and many other entertainers, actors and athletes carry on that legacy through the St. Jude Thanks and Giving® campaign, which has raised $312 million since it was launched in 2004 by Marlo, Terre and Tony Thomas, the children of Danny and Rose Marie Thomas.
The everyday efforts of people nationwide are integral to the hospital’s success. Children who participate in St. Jude Math-A-Thon, college students who unite family and friends on behalf of the hospital through St. Jude Up ‘til Dawn, and athletes who raise funds through the St. Jude Heroes program—all are making a difference.
St. Jude supporters respond to Danny’s rallying cry in their own ways—whether they are retirees who give regularly as Partners In Hope, moms who are members of St. Jude partner Epsilon Sigma Alpha, or volunteers at the 34,000 fundraising events held each year. Each of these individuals keeps hope alive for children fighting life-threatening diseases.
“My father’s legacy doesn’t live in the bricks and mortar of St. Jude,” says National Outreach Director Marlo Thomas. “What he built 50 years ago lives today in the precious boys and girls across this country and the world who are living happy, healthy lives because of our groundbreaking research that has led to pioneering treatment and care.”
Learn more about the St. Jude mission and how you can help at www.stjude.org/waystohelp.
Reprinted from Promise Spring 2012