One thank-you note covered many miles in supporting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
In 2010, Sue Henderson of Evansville, Indiana, donated to the fundraising effort of a friend who was running as a St. Jude Hero in the St. Jude Memphis Marathon. St. Jude Heroes run to raise funds to support St. Jude, where families never receive a bill for treatment, travel, housing or food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.
The thank you note Henderson received from her friend was “the most touching thing I have ever read in my life,” and she vowed that if she had the chance to run a race as a St. Jude Hero, she was going to do it.
That opportunity came the next year. In 2011, Henderson was registered to run the half marathon in the St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville Marathon and learned she could convert her registration and become a St. Jude Hero. She set a fundraising goal of $750, thinking it was an attainable challenge. Henderson was right — she ended up raising $6,475 for St. Jude.
“If I can do it, anybody can do it,” Henderson, 53, said. “I say that about the race, the running, and raising money. I’m not anybody special.”
Since then, Henderson has run the half marathon in the St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville Marathon as a St. Jude Hero every year, raising more than $59,000 for St. Jude during that time. She is signed up for this year’s race, with a goal of raising $25,000.
Henderson attributes her fundraising success to not being afraid to talk to someone new about supporting St. Jude.
“Don’t be afraid,” Henderson said. “St. Jude is such a special place, and has such a special presence in the world.”
Henderson visited St. Jude for the first time in November 2015, an experience that deepened her commitment to the lifesaving mission of St. Jude, which has helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20 percent when the hospital opened in 1962 to more than 80 percent today.
“It reinforced in my mind that I was doing the right thing,” said Henderson. “Everything there is geared to the kids and the families — from the floors to the walls.”
Henderson had one last bit of advice for anyone considering becoming a St. Jude Hero: “You don’t have to have a crazy $25,000 goal. Any amount you raise, be it $500, $750, it all helps the patients and families at St. Jude.”