In just the first half of 2018, we’ve already had much to celebrate at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Ground was broken on a new $412 million research center and St. Jude announced a $100 million investment in St. Jude Global to reach more children diagnosed with cancer around the world.
The World Health Organization also named St. Jude its first WHO Collaborating Centre for Childhood Cancer, and the St. Jude Cloud was launched, providing researchers access to the world’s largest public repository of pediatric cancer genomic data.
These initiatives will help St. Jude further its reach around the globe to impact even more kids suffering from cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
But all of these accomplishments, collaborations and commitments would not be possible without the expertise, dedicated support and selfless deeds of volunteers, corporate partners and supporters.
And while we celebrate each of them every day, we had the great fortune to honor supporters and partners at our recent Volunteer Awards Dinners. It was our chance to say “thank you” in the presence of the ALSAC (the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude)/St. Jude family, along with some of the patient families whom they work so hard to support.
It was a great pleasure and an honor to be able to personally thank so many great volunteers and supporters like Domino’s, our St. Jude Thanks and Giving® Campaign Partner of the Year. For 10 of the 11 weeks of the 2017 campaign, Domino’s raised more than $700,000 each week towards a total of $8.8 million.
And Carnival Cruise Line, our Corporate Partner of the Year, who, in addition to committing to raise $10 million by 2021, showcased the artwork of 30 St. Jude patients in the design of their new cruise ship, Horizon, creating awareness for the St. Jude mission among their more than 5 million passengers.
The commitment shown to St. Jude by these and other partners, such as ANN Inc., Kmart, HomeGoods and Brooks Brothers, as well as radio partners KODA/Sunny 99.1 in Houston, Texas, and WLZL/El Zol in Washington, D.C., is truly inspiring.
We also honored some very special young people who know personally of the lifesaving mission of St. Jude. These are patients and ambassadors like Mary Browder who, just three months into treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma, began sharing her story of pain, fear and, ultimately, hope with our supporters.
She received our Jerry Nicholson Award, named for a St. Jude patient from California who led fundraising campaigns in the early 1960s.
An award that is dear to my heart is the Richard C. Shadyac Sr. Award, named for my father, the CEO of ALSAC from 1992 to 2005. I wish he could have known patients Chandler and Courtney, the recipients of this year’s award.
He would have been so proud of all they’ve accomplished. Both Chandler and Courtney have courageously shared their St. Jude stories on many occasions.
Chandler also ran the half-marathon at the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend last December after completing treatment for brain cancer, and led his fundraising team to raise $6,700 for St. Jude.
Courtney has spoken openly and passionately about her lifelong battle with sickle cell disease, even traveling to Washington, D.C., to speak at the St. Jude Call to Service Reception during the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Leadership Conference.
Most people will never visit St. Jude to see first-hand the miracles that happen here every day. They won’t see the fear in a parent’s eyes or feel the palpable sense of relief that comes with remission and the end of treatment.
Nor will they witness the friendships made in our hallways. Lifelong friendships that have at their core that very thing worth celebrating — life. These patient ambassadors offer a first-hand glimpse into that world and for that we are truly blessed.
From all of us at ALSAC/St. Jude to all of you who offer your own time and talents and generosity for our kids, thank you from the bottom of my heart.