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The stories highlighted on Today are from families across America who all heard the same devastating words: "Your child has cancer." Each of these families turned to the same place in their darkest hour—St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Founded by Marlo's father, Danny Thomas, in 1962, St. Jude is the one of the world's leading pediatric cancer research centers.
St. Jude's fight against childhood cancer spans five decades of American history. In Monday's segment, the Today show visits St. Jude on "Survivors Day," and talks to patients who have received treatment at St. Jude over the past 46 years—starting with Dwight Tosh, patient #17, who was admitted in 1962 and survived his illness. The show will also feature: Franz and Kathy Hoerdemann, who met as children while being treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia at St. Jude in the 1970s. Both overcame their cancer, grew up and married; Lisa Redmond, who came to St. Jude in the 1980s for treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia and has returned as the parent of two St. Jude patients fighting the same disease; and Matthew Haggerty, who was 6 years old when he began his battle against Hodgkin disease in 2002. View clip from November 24 Today show.
Tuesday's segment highlighted Vivian Laws, who has used scrapbooking to document her fight with osteosarcoma, a bone cancer. View clip from November 25 Today show.
On Wednesday, Today show host Hoda Kotb shared her tour of St. Jude, where she visited with patients as they went to their appointments throughout the day. View clip from November 26 Today show.
And on Thursday, the show met brilliant 5-year-old Kai Hardesty, who speaks fluent English and Japanese and is battling a brain tumor called ependymoma.View clip from November 27 Today show.
Friday's segment highlighed all of the wonderful partners who participate annually in the Thanks and Giving program.
Created in 2004 by Marlo and her siblings, Terre and Tony, St. Jude's Thanks and Giving campaign encourages shoppers to "Give thanks for the healthy kids in your life, and give to those who are not." Many generous retail partners are offering ways for holiday shoppers to support St. Jude's mission of finding cures and saving children.
"As part of our ongoing commitment to community giving, Target is proud to be a partner of the Thanks and Giving campaign for a fifth year," said Laysha Ward, president, community relations, Target. "This partnership is another important way we support the wonderful work being conducted at St. Jude. Through the program, our guests help us give back by directly supporting St. Jude, which we hope will make their holiday shopping more meaningful."
"Year after year, we see the remarkable lifesaving work performed at St. Jude, and we are very proud of our partnership," said Terry Burman, executive chairman, Sterling Jewelers Inc., parent company of Kay Jewelers. "Our participation in the Thanks and Giving campaign gives us an additional opportunity to help generate incremental awareness and funds to help the kids of St. Jude. In our opinion, there is no other organization in the world like St. Jude."
"Our on-going relationship with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital has become a defining characteristic of the corporate culture at Williams-Sonoma, Inc," said Pat Connolly, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, Williams-Sonoma, Inc. "I'd go as far as to say that Thanks and Giving is as much a part of our holiday season as Peppermint Bark! Every year when the campaign rolls around, the excitement and motivation around our corporate offices and our stores is palpable. Our associates are proud of our contributions to St. Jude, and I know our customers can feel it as well when they shop in our stores."
Also joining Marlo are celebrities Jennifer Aniston, Robin Williams, Antonio Banderas and NFL star Jason Taylor, who ask for your support in the fight against childhood cancer. Each will be featured in television spots throughout the holiday season, encouraging viewers to support St. Jude.
Thanks and Giving raises awareness and funds for St. Jude. Increased awareness means that more families hear about St. Jude and know where to turn when their children have cancer.