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Founder's Day

Celebrating the legacy of Danny Thomas and the opening of St. Jude more than 60 years ago

On Feb. 4, 1962, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital opened in Memphis, Tenn. It was all because of one man's dream — that "no child should die in the dawn of life."

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St. Jude founder Danny Thomas with a patient

Danny Thomas pictured hugging a female patient.

More than 60 years ago, a hospital opened in Memphis

The overall survival rate for childhood cancer was 20%, and hospitals were still segregated in much of the South.

With St. Jude, Danny Thomas' vision ensured that a new kind of care dawned. Children were treated regardless of their race, ethnicity beliefs or a family’s ability to pay. 

Exterior view of the front of the Danny Thomas pavillion with blue sky, flowering trees and flower landscape.

Take a virtual tour of the Danny Thomas ALSAC Pavilion on the St. Jude campus to learn more about the history of ALSAC and St. Jude.


American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities® (ALSAC): Raising funds and awareness for St. Jude since 1957

Danny, who was of Lebanese descent, turned to his fellow Americans of Arabic-speaking heritage when founding St. Jude. Danny believed that by supporting St. Jude, this group of Americans could thank the United States for the gift of freedom given to their parents while honoring their forefathers who’d immigrated to America.

In 1957, before the hospital even opened, 100 representatives of the Arab-American community met in Chicago to form American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities (ALSAC) with a sole purpose of raising funds for the support of St. Jude. These 100 Arab-Americans and their families are forever known as the original founding families of St. Jude.


Since that day, American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities has been responsible for all of fundraising efforts for St. Jude.

Today, ALSAC operates out of 33 offices across the United States and Puerto Rico which consist of over 1,800 employees from various walks of life. They work toward one common goal: to ensure the lifesaving mission of St. Jude.


Because of ALSAC and our generous supporters, families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food, so a family can focus on helping their child live.

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Our mission goes global

Today, treatments developed at St. Jude have helped push the overall survival rate for childhood cancer in the U.S. to more than 80%. But we can do more. In many countries, one in five children with cancer will live.

Recently, St. Jude launched a historic six-year, $12.9 billion strategic plan — in the midst of a global pandemic — that will expand patient care and accelerate research in the U.S. and globally for children with catastrophic diseases.


Every child deserves a chance to live their best life and celebrate every moment. When you support St. Jude, you can help make cures possible for kids with cancer. Together, we can save more lives.

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You are part of our legacy

For more than 60 years, supporters of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital have been united around one purpose: that "no child should die in the dawn of life." Treatments for pediatric cancer at St. Jude can last up to three years or more with an average cost of approximately $450,000 including travel, housing and food

Unlike other hospitals, the majority of funding for St. Jude comes from generous donors. Explore some of their stories:

Terre, Tony and Marlo Thomas against a white background

Terre, Tony and Marlo Thomas


A family's dedication

Danny's children took up the mantle after he passed away in 1991. The Thomas family has dedicated their lives to helping us continue our lifesaving mission: Finding cures. Saving children.®


Help us fulfill our lifesaving mission: Finding cures. Saving children.® Everywhere.

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