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A strong faith in Saint Jude Thaddeus, the patron saint of hopeless causes, holds the family of Linda and Richie Russo together and binds them to the mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
The couple, who married in their early twenties, struggled with infertility. With tireless devotion, Linda prayed to Saint Jude for a baby, promising to name the child Jude if her prayers were answered.
Five years later, Linda’s sister-in-law called with the news she had been praying for. She told Linda that she had just learned of a young woman who was pregnant and looking for a couple to adopt her child. The Russos happily agreed, and, as promised, named the baby girl “Jude.” A few years later, Jude welcomed an adopted brother and then a sister.
“Those prayers were powerful,” said Linda. Even after their family was complete, Linda “kept praying to him to help keep our family together.”
Living in the Westchester, New York, area, Linda was a homemaker and Richie ran a cleaning service. As the couple aged, the cleaning service became too demanding for Richie, a show car enthusiast, so he started an antique car sales and storage business.
Mindful of the blessings St. Jude had bestowed upon them, the couple wanted to find a way to give back. When they heard about Danny Thomas’ story and his legacy to children battling cancer and other deadly diseases, it struck a chord.
Richie and Linda began giving monthly donations to the hospital through Partners In Hope, and started hosting an annual classic and custom car show at their business, which benefits the children of St. Jude. In addition, to show their gratitude for their three healthy children, they decided to give the ultimate gift to the children by leaving St. Jude in their estate plans.
“My granddaughter and I look at the St. Jude calendar together, and we feel so bad for these children who are so sick," said Linda. "Knowing that something good is going to come after your life is over gives us purpose. We know that not only will we be helping our own children, but also other children who are in great need of our help.”
“We are here for a reason,” said Linda. “We’re not doctors or CEOs, we can’t invent anything, but we can sacrifice a little for the children. We have been so lucky and everything we can do helps."
This story is dedicated to the memory of Richie Russo, who passed away after this story was written.