Tiara was diagnosed with neuroblastoma — a cancerous tumor — when she was only 13 months old, and given a 20% chance to survive. At St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, she underwent an array of complex treatments including radiation therapy, chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant and more than 30 surgeries to remove cancerous tumors throughout her body. She experienced relapses and side effects that stole her hearing, leaving her legally deaf.
Tiara’s story is a heartbreaking example of just how insidious childhood cancer is. Originally from the Pacific Northwest, she and her family traveled thousands of miles to St. Jude for her treatment. All at no cost because no family ever receives a bill for treatment, travel, housing or food at St. Jude — because we believe all a family should worry about is helping their child live.
I thought of Tiara a few weeks ago while in Seattle for the 11th running of the St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Marathon. It was the second year for St. Jude as title sponsor, with more than 800 St. Jude Heroes® doing good for themselves while doing good for our kids.
I couldn’t have been more proud of the volunteers and race organizers in Seattle who went to amazing lengths to raise funds and awareness to help kids they may never even meet. Kids like Tiara, whose cancer didn’t keep her from being valedictorian of her high school class. It didn’t keep her from earning a full scholarship to college or double majoring in biology and music. Cancer hasn’t kept her from fulfilling her dreams of a career in medicine.
St. Jude patients are remarkably resilient. I believe that resilience, in part, comes from their knowing supporters like you, all across the country — from Miami to Seattle, from Boston to San Diego — are running their race with them.
Cities like Seattle are beacons of light for kids, not just from that region, like Tiara, but from around the world. During my weekend there for the marathon, I found the people to be caring, endearing and tenacious when speaking about St. Jude. Together, we know the children of the world are counting on us.
And I hear the same from people all over. At St. Jude, we see patients from all 50 states and around the world. We fundraise throughout the country — more than 31,000 events per year — with more than one million active volunteers.
It warms my heart. It gives me chills to think of the St. Jude mission spreading throughout the country on the heels of our St. Jude Heroes, to think of the patients who hear those footsteps as a life-affirming drumbeat.
In the coming months, there are Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon races in Chicago, Philadelphia, Denver, Las Vegas and many other cities around the country. We are incredibly grateful to have a partner like Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series and I encourage you to sign up as a St. Jude Hero in any of their events and find what it means to “run for a reason.”
Registration is now open for the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend. Held in December, the race day is our largest, single-day fundraiser of the year with some 25,000 participants. There is no more inspiring sight than running through the St. Jude campus, cheered on by patients, friends and family. I would love to see you here, going the distance, giving your all so kids like Tiara, and thousands more like her, are able to finish their own race.
Help our families focus on their sick child, not medical bills.
When you donate, your gift means families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.