Celebrity Involvement at St. Jude

It’s only natural that celebrities have played a major role in supporting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Even before the hospital opened, founder Danny Thomas turned to his friends in the entertainment industry to help bring his dream to fruition.

Early fundraising concerts featuring entertainers such as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Elvis Presley, Sammy Davis Jr., Dinah Shore and Jack Benny helped raise awareness about St. Jude. As the years went by and momentum grew, countless other recognizable names and faces from the worlds of entertainment joined our cause.

Thanks and Giving

In the fall of 2004, St. Jude kicked off a new national campaign to help put meaning and true giving back into the holidays. Marlo Thomas, national outreach director of St. Jude and daughter of founder Danny Thomas—along with her brother Tony Thomas—created an unparalleled union of celebrities, media, retail and corporate partners. Called Thanks and Giving, this unique national program asks consumers to give thanks for the healthy children in their lives and give to those children who are not, with the hope that someday all children will be healthy.

The campaign has a two-fold mission: to raise awareness and to raise funds, enabling us to reach families who have been unable to find an answer elsewhere and allowing us to continue our life-saving work and groundbreaking research.

During the months of November and December, consumers are asked to spend with our partner companies that display the Thanks and Giving magnifying glass logo. Proceeds from designated purchases also benefit St. Jude, and consumers are asked to “add a dollar” to their purchase at participating retailers. Marlo kicked off the 2006 campaign with multi-day appearances on the Today show, highlighting patients and St. Jude’s groundbreaking research. Celebrity television spots featuring Marlo Thomas, Jennifer Aniston, Jimmy Smits, Ray Romano, Robin Williams and Bernie Mac aired more than 500 times on network and cable television. In addition, a movie trailer was shown on more than 20,000 movie screens nationwide and on more than 20,000 American Airlines domestic flights. The Thanks and Giving campaign has generated hundreds of millions of audience impressions enabling St. Jude to introduce our life-saving mission to millions of potential donors and volunteers.

Visiting Luminaries

Many government officials have also visited or participated in St. Jude events. The list of dignitaries includes George and Barbara Bush, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Elizabeth Dole, Harold Ford Jr., Richard Gephardt, Al Gore, Fred Thompson and the late Gerald Ford.

Other celebrities, including Tim Allen, Jim Carey, Ray Romano, Robin Williams, Daisy Fuentes, Laura Dern, Danny DeVito, Dennis Quaid, Danica McKellar, Anne Hathaway, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Tina Turner and Steven Seagal have visited St. Jude to see firsthand the work going on daily to combat catastrophic diseases.

Supermodel Amber Valletta has visited the hospital numerous times and has participated in many St. Jude events, including the Monte Carlo Gala and the 2003 Shower of Stars. She also sits on the ALSAC Professional Advisory Board (PAB), which consists of volunteers — leaders in their field — who provide guidance and support for the hospital’s fundraising efforts.

Singer/songwriter Amy Grant has visited the hospital and Target House several times. In fact, she sponsored the music room at Target House. “Music is such a fundamental part of my life,” she said.
“Sharing it with the children being treated at St. Jude is truly gratifying for me, as an artist and as a mom.” Grant raised money for the music room through her holiday concert tour. She often visits to perform for the patients and appears as a special guest on the St. Jude the national television special, performing the song “Helping Hand” with the children at St. Jude.

Country Cares for St. Jude Kids

Since 1989, many country music artists have become involved with St. Jude through the Country Cares for St. Jude Kids® radiothon program, co-founded by Randy Owen, lead singer for the group ALABAMA . Artists such as Clint Black, Faith Hill, the Dixie Chicks, Tim McGraw, Garth Brooks, Brooks & Dunn, Charlie Daniels, Martina McBride, Travis Tritt, Keith Urban and Trisha Yearwood have visited the hospital, recorded liners and called into radiothons to support the program. To learn more about Country Cares, please visit www.countrycares.org.

Led by Danny’s daughters and son — Marlo, Terre and Tony — the tradition of celebrities turning out in full to support St. Jude continues today.

Last update: May 2007