One D.C.-area family is living up to their Lebanese-American heritage in a very special way — by supporting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
While many people know that entertainer and Lebanese-American Danny Thomas founded St. Jude and worked to support the hospital, fewer are aware of the numerous chapters of American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities (ALSAC, which is the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude) that served as the engine of grassroots fundraising nationwide in the early days of the hospital.
A daughter of Lebanese immigrants to the U.S., Eunice Mazloom grew up in the midst of that culture of generosity and has naturally carried it forward — breaking new ground in 2016 as a founder of the first St. Jude parent-teen gala, along with her daughter, Amelia, 17; son George, 15; and youngest daughter Adele, 13.
The St. Jude Golden Gala, held in September 2016 at the French Embassy in Washington, raised more than $106,000 and drew more than 260 parents and teens to the event.
“St. Jude has always been a part of our family; my family hosted and supported fundraisers for Danny Thomas before I was even born,” said Mazloom, whose uncle, John Karrat, and aunt, Adele Mazloom, were involved at the very beginning of fundraising for St. Jude. Following in their footsteps, Mazloom began leading fundraising events for St. Jude 20 years ago. The events she has led or founded include the St. Jude Gourmet Gala; St. Jude Runway with Saks Fifth Avenue; the St. Jude 100 Point Wine Weekend, presented by Wynn Las Vegas; the St. Jude Hermes Luncheon and Fashion Presentation; and the St. Jude 50 year Anniversary Gala underwritten by Hermes.
As her daughter Amelia grew older, she began showing an interest in creating an event for St. Jude. “She would brainstorm with me and she finally came up with this incredible idea to focus on teens, which she and her peers could completely relate to,” Mazloom said.
Everything about the gala was influenced by the teen committee members. All of the performers were high school students, the St. Jude patient speaker was a teen, and one of the teen committee members created the event’s logo.
Planning for a second St. Jude Golden Gala, scheduled for Sept. 16, is under way, and the committee has grown from 23 students representing seven independent schools to 35 students representing 17 independent schools. The event is likely to continue for many more years, as the current teen committee goes on to college and hands off gala leadership to the next group of teens.
“We hope it continues to be another legacy event,” Amelia said.
He who denies his heritage, has no heritage.
An inscription inside the dome of the Danny Thomas/ALSAC Pavilion on the St. Jude campus means a great deal to Mazloom: “He who denies his heritage, has no heritage.”
“As a first-generation Lebanese-American, this has always stayed with me,” she said. “While my children have not had the opportunity to visit Lebanon yet, they have visited St. Jude, giving them a piece of their heritage.”