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Two of Memphis' most recognizable organizations are meeting at half-court to tip-off a new partnership in the fight against childhood catastrophic diseases.
The Memphis Grizzlies and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital announced today a partnership based on building relationships between the NBA team and the children undergoing treatment for cancer and other life-threatening diseases at St. Jude.
"St. Jude is known in this community and abroad for the life-saving work it does, and we are pleased to be able to support this cause," said Michael Heisley, owner of the Memphis Grizzlies. "For us, the partnership is a natural fit."
The Grizzlies are the only major league sports franchise to call Memphis home, and Memphis has been home to St. Jude, the world's leader in the fight against childhood cancer, pediatric AIDS, sickle cell and other catastrophic diseases for 40 years.
"We are excited about having the Grizzlies here in Memphis and are deeply appreciative of the steps they are taking to support St. Jude," said Richard C. Shadyac, national executive director for ALSAC/St. Jude, the hospital's fund-raising arm. "Through the support of organizations like the Memphis Grizzlies, we are making a difference in the lives of sick children everywhere."
Aspects of the Partnership
The partnership between St. Jude and the Memphis Grizzlies consists of activities that will help enhance relationships between the players and the patients, as well as between the organizations' staffs and families.
"We want to focus on relationship building and getting to know the patients at St. Jude," said Heisley. "We were drawn to this cause right away when we relocated to Memphis, and the official partnership is a natural by-product of our interest in the great work being done at this hospital."
St. Jude Night with the Grizzlies - The April 2 home game against Sacramento was designated St. Jude Night to raise public awareness about the hospital by involving patients, families and staff in halftime activities.
Read to Achieve - The NBA established this new national campaign to help young people develop a life-long love for reading. It promotes the value of reading and encourages families and adults to read regularly with young children. At St. Jude, the Grizzlies will donate books to the hospital and its patient family housing facilities, the Ronald McDonald House and Target House. Players who visit St. Jude will set aside time to read to the children and encourage their continued reading while undergoing treatment. "Reading with our children does more than just entertain them," said Shadyac. "This program provides hope, and hope is a necessary element to their recovery.
Encouraging them to read and keep up with their school work reinforces that they will one day be cured of their disease and will go on to live a long and prosperous life," said Shadyac.
Tickets for Kids - Grizzlies players will donate game tickets to St. Jude patients and their families. Michael Dickerson, the Grizzlies' 6-foot-5-inch guard, instituted this practice this year when he donated 20 tickets per game to St. Jude patients. "We want to do anything we can to help these kids forget what they're going through, even for a few hours," Dickerson said.
The Auction Program - Grizzlies' players will donate autographed items that will be auctioned during St. Jude events all over the country, increasing the amount of money the events can raise for the hospital.
Public service announcements promoting the partnership will begin to air during the game broadcasts on WPXX-TV (PAX 50) and WHBQ-AM 560.
"We look forward to an ongoing relationship with this team and encourage the community to support them as they continue to make their presence felt in this city," said Shadyac.
For more information about the Memphis Grizzlies, please visit www.grizzlies.com.