Skip to main content

Giving back to say thanks

The beginnings of St. Jude are more than just a compelling story for one family of Dream Home builders — it's a mirror of their own lives.

The founding of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is, at heart, an immigrant’s story: a family uproots from their home in the Middle East to make a better life in America. A son, a successful entertainer wanting to thank his country for his prosperity, gives the world St. Jude.

That immigrant son, Danny Thomas, dedicated St. Jude in 1962, saying, “If I were to die this minute, I would know why I was born.”

Nearly 40 years later, an immigrant to the United States from Colombia, Jairo Alvarez Botero, built his first St. Jude Dream Home in Baton Rouge, La.

Every year since, Alvarez Construction has built a Dream Home, raising more than $20 million to help ensure that no family ever receives a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live. 

He felt that he was able to connect with Danny Thomas’ mission with giving something back to this country as an immigrant. He had kids of his own and was always thankful that his kids were healthy, but that St. Jude was there for other parents and their kids. He really connected with giving back to this country that he loved.
Ana Alvarez-Tanner, reflecting on her father, Jairo

Jairo came to the United States from Colombia at the age of 25, after serving as an officer in the Colombian Army. He had $100 in his pocket and a limited understanding of the English language. But he put himself through college, graduated and returned home to start his own construction company.

Years later, wanting a better education for his children, he returned to the U.S. determined to live the American dream.

Alvarez Construction has been a supporter of St. Jude for more than two decades

Alvarez Construction has been a supporter of St. Jude for more than two decades

Jairo built his own construction company from the ground up in America. He passed away in 2013, and today his kids — Carlos, Sebastian and Ana — carry on his legacy of giving back through the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway® program to honor their father’s hard work and celebrate his successes.

The St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway program can be found in more than 30 locations across the country and raised more than $31 million in 2017 to help support the lifesaving mission of St. Jude.

Alvarez Construction is the second-longest Dream Home builder in the program, and when Ana is asked why her family has continued to be involved, her reply comes quickly.

How could we not? We’ve met so many wonderful people, but it doesn’t really hit home until you have your own kids, nieces and nephews. We just have to; it’s in our blood. After being involved for so many years, it’s just part of who we are, part of what our company is all about.
Ana Alvarez-Tanner


Ana’s commitment to St. Jude hasn’t stopped with building a home every year.

“The year after my father passed away, I decided I was going to start running for St. Jude,” she says. “I ran my first full marathon in Memphis back in 2016, and I’ve been running the Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Marathon as a St. Jude Hero®. Everything I’ve run, I’ve run in my father’s honor for St. Jude.”

Learn more about the St. Jude Dream Home program or running as a St. Jude Hero.


Help our families focus on their sick child, not medical bills.

When you donate monthly, 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.

Donate Monthly


Read more inspiring stories