Skip to main content
ALSAC CEO and President Richard C. Shadyac sitting in a chair and smiling

Finding purpose in the new year


ALSAC President and CEO Richard C. Shadyac Jr. reflects on what's to come in 2020, and ways that St. Jude is meeting the challenge of pediatric cancer around the world. 


As dawn breaks on 2020, we at ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, are excited for the opportunities in the decade ahead. As St. Jude doctors and researchers showed us last year with the announcement of a cure for SCID-X1, better known as “bubble boy disease,” the world can truly change when people are unified behind the purpose of helping those in need.

This was the same motivational message of love, care and empathy spread across the country in the 1950s and '60s by our founder Danny Thomas, as he raised money for an institution that would be built to save the lives of children.

danny thomas at the opening of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital on February 4, 1962

Danny Thomas at the opening of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital on February 4, 1962

On February 4, we’ll celebrate the anniversary of Danny’s promise to the world when St. Jude opened on February 4, 1962. It’s the 58th anniversary yet, at St. Jude, we celebrate every day. There are celebrations for clean scans, remission, “no more chemo” parties marking the end of treatment, birthdays, half birthdays, graduations, weddings, new years and new beginnings.

The new year is a time of renewed hope and possibility as we make resolutions to improve ourselves and our society. When we are happier and healthier, we are better able to care for our community and those in it. We see such care again and again with volunteers who support 31,000 events held for St. Jude each year. We see it in corporate partners and their customers who have donated more than a billion dollars in 16 years of St. Jude Thanks and Givin campaigns.

scene from event attendees at the 2019 Detroit Gala

Event attendees at the 2019 Detroit Gala

These partners truly understand the importance of purpose. According to recent studies, 47% of consumers believe brands should be involved in social issues and movements* while 73% of employees say companies can act to both increase profits and improve the economic and social conditions in communities where they operate.**

58% of consumers want brands that give back to their communities*. It’s why service is a culture pillar supporting the very foundation of all we do at ALSAC and why we’ve logged more than 50,000 community service hours since 2018 in our commitment to care for communities where we, our supporters and our St. Jude families live.

volunteer at the St. Jude Memphis Marathon weekend

A volunteer at the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend®

I believe this is what Danny Thomas foresaw on that day in 1962, when he unveiled the statue of St. Jude Thaddeus that still stands as a beacon of hope and ushers the world through our doors — an institution that would be more than glass and concrete, but one of heart and soul with a global purpose behind caring for some of the sickest kids regardless of race, religion or family’s ability to pay.

It was the very ideal espoused by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose birthday we celebrated this year on January 20. Dr. King said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

danny thomas in front of the st. jude thaddeus statue

Danny’s dream continues to be an answer to King’s question. I hope you’ll seek to answer this question in your own way as you look to the decade ahead. And as you reflect on Dr. King’s fundamental question, I hope you think of a family pulling up to St. Jude for the very first time. Please help provide them with the hope, care and love they crave.


*MAGNA/IPG Media Trade
**2019 Edelman Trust Barometer 

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.

Make a Donation


Read more inspiring stories