On a Sunday afternoon in 1961, the year before St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital opened, a group of teenagers in Indianapolis gathered to go door-to-door to raise money for St. Jude. That day’s efforts raised $17,000 to support the soon-to-be-opened hospital that would become a symbol of hope to desperately ill children and their families.
The Teenage March went on to become a national event throughout the 1960s, and young people from all across the country have been a vital and important group of St. Jude supporters ever since. Just consider, the St. Jude Up ‘til Dawn program, which launched in 1999, is now held on 450 college campuses and has raised more than $47 million for St. Jude.
I was reminded of the valuable contributions that young people make to the lifesaving mission of St. Jude this summer as we welcomed several hundred high school and college students to our campus in Memphis to learn more about our work on behalf of children everywhere.
Our annual Collegiate Leadership Seminar unites St. Jude Up ‘til Dawn leaders from around the country. The women of Tri Delta fraternity — who in 2014 announced a pledge to raise $60 million in 10 years, the largest single commitment by a St. Jude partner in the hospital’s history — also held their annual Tri Delta Leadership Conference this month. Then we hosted one of our newest fundraising groups — the St. Jude Leadership Society. These high-performing high school students were part of a pilot program in Chicago this past school year and participated in education and leadership sessions while also raising funds for St. Jude.
It has been incredibly inspiring to meet and work with many of these young people, and I could not be more impressed with their compassion, caring and deep commitment to helping raise funds and awareness for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Their energy and enthusiasm are truly contagious and should be a source of pride to their families, their schools and their communities.
We are deeply grateful for these individuals across the country and around the world — people from all walks of life — who are truly united in the St. Jude mission: Finding cures. Saving children.® They have taken this mission and made it their own. It is only with their support, and yours, that we will reach the day that St. Jude founder Danny Thomas dreamed of — the day when no child will die in the dawn of life.