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More than a dozen volunteers, donors, corporate partners and organizations that generously support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital were honored June 25 by the ALSAC/St. Jude Boards of Directors and Governors.
The Volunteer Appreciation Awards are given every year by the board to recognize outstanding dedication and commitment to the lifesaving mission of St. Jude. Helping to present the 2010 awards were Terre Thomas and Tony Thomas, the children of St. Jude founder Danny Thomas and members of the ALSAC/St. Jude boards.
“We are so blessed to have compassionate champions of the St. Jude mission who are dedicated to helping our doctors and researchers find cures and save children battling catastrophic diseases,” said Richard C. Shadyac Jr., ALSAC chief executive officer, who also presented the awards. “Their generous support brings us closer to achieving our founder Danny Thomas’ dream of a day when no child will die in the dawn of life.”
Two young people were singled out for special honors at this year’s awards dinner. This year, a new award was created to honor the patients of St. Jude, who graciously and generously share their personal stories to raise awareness of the St. Jude mission. The award was named after the late Richard C. Shadyac Sr., longtime CEO of ALSAC and the father of ALSAC’s current CEO. Tony Thomas presented the award to its first recipient, Chase Hamm, who has been treated for two cancers at St. Jude.
The Jerry Nicholson Award specifically honors youth who support the hospital and is named after a patient who raised money for St. Jude while he was being treated for cancer. This year’s award went to Quinton Castillo of Wyoming, who raised thousands of dollars by asking customers at the local Kmart store, where his mom is assistant manager, to donate to St. Jude during the Thanks and Giving® campaign.
It was announced that ALSAC’s highest honor, the Michael F. Tamer Award, was presented a few weeks ago to Michael Francis, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Target. The award, which is not given every year, is reserved for those individuals who have shown an abiding commitment to St. Jude. During the Volunteer Appreciation Awards, Shadyac praised Francis for his staunch advocacy of St. Jude, even as he and his family fight their own battle against a cancer that threatens his daughter.
Kmart was recognized as St. Jude’s Corporate Partner of the Year at the awards dinner. Kmart has been a Thanks and Giving partner since 2006 and last year raised $6.9 million during the holiday campaign. Kmart has raised more than $17 million to support St. Jude since becoming a partner.
Other corporate partners who were recognized were Window World, which joined the St. Jude family in 2008 and has raised almost $900,000 for the children of St. Jude, and Averitt Express, whose associates have donated $2.8 million to the hospital during the past 20 years. Window World received the New Corporate Partner of the Year award and Averitt Express was honored with the Employee Giving Partner of the Year award.
Honored as the 2010 Partner In Hope of the Year was Ira Jackson, a Partner In Hope since 2008 who, due to the costs of his own cancer diagnosis, wrote to St. Jude this year that he could no longer continue giving to the hospital. But his heartfelt letter, asking St. Jude to find someone to take his place as a monthly donor, inspired more than 1,500 former donors to begin supporting St. Jude again. Sadly, Jackson lost his battle a few weeks ago, but Shadyac told the audience that he spoke to Jackson before he passed away, and he was honored by the award.
Receiving the Volunteer of the Year award was Craig Witsoe and his family. Witsoe spearheaded the most successful Give thanks. Walk.™ event of the year in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, raising more than $61,000 for St. Jude. Witsoe personally raised more than $18,000 in honor of his son, Sean, a St. Jude patient who lost his fight against cancer earlier this year.
The Cardinal Stritch Donor of the Year award recognizes donors who have made a significant commitment to St. Jude. Named in honor of Danny Thomas’ spiritual mentor, this year’s award went to Roy G. Gignac, a Virginia businessman.
Recognized for their 20 years of support for St. Jude, the Wall Street Committee was named Volunteer Group of the Year. The actual award will be formally presented to the committee this fall, during its largest fundraising event, Taste of New York.
One of the largest fundraisers for St. Jude nationwide is the St. Jude Dream Home® Giveaway, which was begun in 1991 in Shreveport, Louisiana. Receiving special recognition from the board this year was Shreveport’s KTBS Channel 3/St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway campaign. The award was accepted by Dr. Donald Mack, the pediatrician who created the Dream Home concept.
Special recognition was also given to Epsilon Sigma Alpha, whose members have supported St. Jude for 38 years. Terre Thomas presented the award to this special group that has raised more than $135 million for St. Jude and volunteered at countless events across the country.
And Marilyn Elledge, senior vice president of ALSAC’s Donor Cares division, received the Board’s first Dedicated Service Award for her 30 years of devotion to the children of St. Jude.