St. Jude helps celebrate Elvis' 75th birthday


Elvis' grandchildren, Danielle Riley and Benjamin Storm, cut the
75th birthday cake that was created by a former St. Jude patient.
Photo courtesy of Elvis Presley Enterprises.


Elvis Presley's recent 75th anniversary birthday bash included a little St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in the celebration.

The diamond anniversary of the birth of the King of Rock 'N' Roll was celebrated on January 8, 2010, with a birthday cake created by former St. Jude patient Lori Laird and help cutting it from a current St. Jude patient.

Laird and her mother, Pam, owners of Cakes by Mom and Me, were one of four bakeries invited to submit sketches for the King's cake. The sketches were then placed on for fans to vote on their favorite.

Laird was a little worried about how well they would do in a competition based on sketches. "We don't draw," she laughed. But the voters saw differently, selecting their design as the winner.

"We were surprised that we won," Laird said. "We got a little hometown bump." The other bakeries invited to participate were located in Chattanooga and two in Nashville.

The cutting of the four-foot white cake with buttercream icing and featuring silhouette images of Elvis took place on the grounds of Graceland with the help of St. Jude patient Virginia Starr.

Starr was one of four children invited to participate representing the four charities that Elvis Presley Enterprises will support in 2010 ... all charities that were near and dear to Elvis' heart.

Elvis' connection with St. Jude goes back to its earliest days. The King was one of the early supporters enlisted by Danny Thomas in the creation of the hospital, asking Elvis to perform at the very first Shower of Stars event at Crump stadium. Later on, Elvis purchased the U.S.S Potomac—the boat owned by Franklin Delano Roosevelt during his presidency and known as the Floating White House—and donated it to Danny to auction off to raise funds for the hospital.

Following the celebration, Lisa Marie, her husband, Michael Lockwood and her two oldest children, Danielle Riley and Benjamin Storm, came to St. Jude to tour the facilities with Rick Shadyac, CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising arm of St. Jude and patient Lindsey Wilkerson. The First Family of rock 'n' roll visited with some of the patients also including 6-year-old Zowie, a patient who shares Elvis' birthday. Zowie, an Elvis fan, knew about the birthday celebration at Graceland and had a hunch that Lisa Marie would come see her. She was right.

"It was nice to know they were celebrating Elvis' birthday, but still took time out of their schedule to visit people who weren't having a good time," said Zowie's mom, Josie. "It was nice that they still took time to do good."
Rick Shadyac added: "We were thrilled to host Lisa Marie and her family on the 75th anniversary of her father's birth. Elvis was a big part of St. Jude's early days, helping Danny get the funding he needed to construct the hospital, and Elvis Presley Enterprises—and Elvis fans everywhere—continue to be strong supporters of the hospital. For that, we are very grateful."


January 2010