Childhood cancer entered Marie Conn’s life in 1961 – one year before the opening of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
That was the year she graduated from St. Dominic High School – the year that she should have gone to the prom with her high school sweetheart, Jimmy McGrath. But that was also the year that Jimmy, “so well-loved in our school,” died of brain cancer, she said.
Marie was recently recognized as the Partner In Hope of the Year for St. Jude, because of her dedicated monthly support of St. Jude since 1994. “When I was thinking about what charity I should support, it just fit so well,” she said. “To help other people not die from cancer.”
Partners In Hope make a monthly pledge to St. Jude. These gifts create a steady stream of income that helps keep the promise made by St. Jude founder, Danny Thomas: 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.
St. Jude supporter Marie Conn receiving the Partner In Hope of the Year award at the annual Volunteer Awards Dinner on Sunday, July 23, 2017.
For Marie — a lifelong teacher and professor of religious studies at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia — it also made sense to support St. Jude because it is a charity that focuses on children. She has visited St. Jude several times, attending the Scientific Symposium and even volunteering for a fundraising event on campus.
What stuns me every time I’m there is the incredible attention to every single, possible detail for the kids and for the research. It is just so meticulously run and yet so comfortable when you are walking around.
When she learned that she was Partner In Hope of the Year, Marie said she was speechless but thrilled.
“There is nothing I can do about what the children are going through, but at least I can support those who can do something about what they are going through,” said Marie, who has also made St. Jude a beneficiary in her will. “It’s a good feeling.”