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At 70, Rosalee Echele shows no sign of slowing down in her nearly four-decade commitment to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
She has chaired the St. Jude Give thanks. Walk. event in St. Louis for the last three years and has worked as ticket chairman of the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway in St. Louis for the last two years. Echele also has served as Missouri coordinator for Epsilon Sigma Alpha (ESA), raising more than $1 million for St. Jude.
While she admits to having excellent organizational skills, she adds, “I have a wonderful husband who is very supportive.”
In her professional life, Echele is the office manager for an allergist, where she has been employed for 32 years. She recently cut back to part-time work so that she could spend more time on her volunteer activities.
Echele joined ESA in 1969 and became involved with St. Jude in 1972, when ESA adopted the hospital as its charity of choice.
“It is something I do because St. Jude is such a wonderful place for our patients and families to go. We make time for it.”
One of her favorite St. Jude events is Dream Home because “so many people who come through have a personal connection—a neighbor, a niece or someone who has been treated at St. Jude. It’s exciting to hear how many people St. Jude has touched,” she said.
St. Jude Dream Home raises money for the hospital through sales of $100 raffle tickets for a chance to win a home, which is constructed with donated materials and labor. The program has raised $155 million for St. Jude since 1991.
Another favorite for Echele is the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend, which her family has supported since the beginning. She walks the 5K as a member of the ESA Heroes Team. St. Jude Heroes teams raise money for St. Jude through pledges for their commitments to run or walk in endurance events.
Echele’s family, including grandchildren, has made attending the marathon a tradition. And while her family members tour the hospital during the marathon weekend, Echele gives platelets for the patients.
Echele first visited St. Jude about 30 years ago. Although the hospital looked very different than it does today, some things have remained the same.
“We were just so impressed to see the compassion that the staff—whether they are health care or administration—gives to all the family. It was just phenomenal to us. It made me and our children want to do more for St. Jude at every level.”