Danny Thomas, center, unveils the St. Jude statue at the hospital opening ceremony.

60 years and going strong

Richard Shadyac Jr., president and CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude, celebrates the organization's 60 year anniversary.

As supporters of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, many of you know the story of Danny Thomas praying to St. Jude Thaddeus, the patron saint of lost causes. Danny was a struggling entertainer who asked for help finding his way in life and promised to build a shrine to St. Jude.

This year — as we mark the 60th anniversary of ALSAC, the organization Danny founded to raise the funds and public awareness needed to build St. Jude, and then to maintain it — I am reminded anew of how bold, how audacious, how daring Danny was in keeping that promise.

Because this would not be just any shrine. This would be a research hospital dedicated to treating children — children whom others had written off as incurable.

Not only that, Danny was determined that no family who ever turned to St. Jude would face the financial hardships too often associated with treating cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Danny dared to declare that families would never receive a bill from St. Jude for anything — not for the travel needed to get to St. Jude, nor for housing or food once they arrived. And, most of all, not for the groundbreaking treatment their children received.

Danny Thomas with children at opening

But Danny couldn't have made good on his promise to St. Jude and to the families of St. Jude without the help of each and every one of you. Millions of you — from all races, all walks of life — have embraced our lifesaving mission.

Every February, when we note the anniversary of the opening of St. Jude, I think about Danny’s wholehearted commitment to our lifesaving mission. That’s because I'm privileged to see it reflected every day in the faces of our courageous patients and their families, and in those of the doctors and scientists and entire hospital staff who are dedicated to caring for and finding cures for these children.

And I see it reflected in you.

Without your generosity and support, Danny’s bold vision would have come to nothing. That is as true today as it was 60 years ago. Thank you for believing in Danny’s dream that, "no child should die in the dawn of life" — and for helping St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to make that dream a reality.

You, too, can make a difference for St. Jude kids.

Join a legacy of donors who have helped keep Danny Thomas' dream alive.

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