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St. Jude donor Charlie Stich has a very special family heirloom that will forever connect his family to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Charlie’s mother, Ann, owned and operated a luncheonette in New York City from 1957 to 1964, frequented by St. Jude founder Danny Thomas. “It was located near CBS where he filmed his show, Make Room for Daddy,” Charlie explains. Charlie’s mother was a business woman who became a keen judge of character from so many years of working with the public. “She took a liking to Danny immediately,” says Charlie. “She knew he was genuine.”
During one visit to the restaurant, Danny shared his vision with Ann for a hospital to help children battling deadly diseases and drew a rendering of the hospital on a napkin for her. “He told her about his dream that one day no child would die in the dawn of life, and he gave her a St. Jude medal and prayer card, which she cherished for the rest of her life,” says Charlie.
When his mother died, Ann left the medal and prayer card to Charlie, along with the responsibility of carrying on the family’s legacy of helping the children of St. Jude. “That relationship my mother formed with Danny Thomas had a huge impact on my family,” states Charlie.
Charlie, a Vietnam Veteran, is retired from the U.S. Marine Corps and a career in the restaurant and food service industry. He doesn’t have any children of his own but says, “The only kids I have are the kids of St. Jude.”
In addition to giving monthly gifts to St. Jude as a Partner In Hope, Charlie has taken his mother’s legacy to heart and has also made the ultimate gift to the children of St. Jude by including the hospital in his estate plans. “St. Jude will get a large portion of my estate,” Charlie explains. “I hope that one day this will help to find a cure, because these kids deserve a chance to grow up. We don’t know what they will become, great parents or great assets to this wonderful country we live in.”
Charlie has visited St. Jude once, and hopes to make the trip more often now that he is retired. “I was very impressed with everything I saw and so energized about what I’m doing for the hospital and the children. I think everyone should really go see it for themselves.”
Honoring his mother’s legacy of helping children battling cancer and other deadly diseases gives Charlie a feeling of warmth and satisfaction. “When I went to the hospital and saw how my contributions are helping the children, I just had a glow about me.”