Danny Thomas: The ultimate volunteer

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Danny Thomas rallies support for St. JudeSt. Jude volunteers
St. Jude volunteer Marjorie WebsterThe St. Jude volunteer Rosalee Echele

Danny Thomas rallies support for St. Jude


Since 1962, millions of volunteers have helped make St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital one of the world’s premier pediatric cancer research centers. But none was more important to children battling cancer and other deadly diseases than Danny Thomas.

Danny, along with his wife Rose Marie, were the ultimate volunteers for St. Jude. In the early days, they traveled cross-country by car, visiting city after city and rousing support for the fledgling hospital.

And once the hospital opened and the focus shifted its maintenance and growth, Danny didn’t let up. He continued traveling the country, speaking before groups and creating the massive grassroots support structure that makes St. Jude possible today.

Danny never took a salary for his work with St. Jude, but he was always the first to give his time and money to make his dream a reality. And he encouraged others to share his vision.

“Those who have shared my dream of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital owe a special debt to our fellow citizens," Danny said after St. Jude opened, "For without them this hospital would not exist, and mankind would be the worse for that.”


Danny’s example has rallied millions to the St. Jude mission over the years. It also created a spark in his own children—Marlo, Terre and Tony Thomas—to join their father in keeping St. Jude going. The hospital has been a part of their lives from the very beginning. It was only natural that each would join their father in contributing to St. Jude.

And when Danny passed away in 1991, each took bigger roles in helping continue their father's work. And—just like him— they've never taken a salary for the work they do.

Marlo assumed her father's role as the face and St. Jude, and she and her siblings have helped push the hospital to bigger heights. From Country Cares to the Runway for Life events to the annual Thanks and Giving® campaign, the Thomas siblings do as their father did and set the standard of volunteerism for St. Jude.

As St. Jude marks its 50th anniversary, the next generation of Thomas family members has begun adding their names to Danny's legacy

Danny's grandchildren—Jason Thomas Gordon, Dionne Kirschner, Kate Thomas, Kristina Munoz and Tracy Thomas—have all stepped up to contribute to the hospital.

Jason, Terre’s son, helped created the Music Gives campaign with Sheryl Crow, Stone Temple Pilots and Kings of Leon. His sister, Dionne, organizes a fundraiser in California.

Tony’s daughter Kristina recently organized the Notes of Hope event in Dallas. And his other daughters, Kate and Tracy, regularly attend fundraising events to support the hospital.


You can be part of this legacy by donating to St. Jude or by visiting our Volunteers page to find out how you can help.

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