Thirty-four years ago, Diane Lavallee was on bed rest during her second pregnancy when she saw an infomercial about St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. She immediately joined the monthly giving program and has been a loyal supporter ever since.
“Seeing all those faces of innocent children and what was happening to them made me cry. I started thinking about the baby I was carrying and what I would do if that were me,” said Lavallee, a Massachusetts resident. “I felt that I needed to help in some little way—that God had blessed me with one healthy child and another on the way.”
When Lavallee joined the program, the monthly donation request was just $7. Today, the St. Jude Partners In Hope program includes 750,000 people who donated more than $134 million in the last fiscal year—an amount that could cover the operating cost of St. Jude for 67 days. The average St. Jude Partner In Hope donation is about $24 each month.
Lavallee’s connection to the St. Jude mission is rooted in her deep love for children. Once a stay-at-home mom who ran an in-home daycare, she is now office manager of a local furniture store where she keeps a St. Jude “cuss cup.”
“During the holidays, anybody who swears at work has to pay the cuss cup,” Lavallee said of the good-natured holiday collection she started 10 years ago. Contributions have allowed her to send an additional $75 to $175 to St. Jude annually.
Lavallee and her husband, Victor, have visited the hospital twice — once 10 years ago and again this past summer.
After the first visit, Lavallee upped her monthly contribution.
“It was a very moving and humbling experience. We didn’t see any sadness. All the children seemed to be happy,” she says.
When they returned this year, the couple found the brick they had purchased on the Pathway of Hope, another way of supporting the hospital.
Lavallee keeps St. Jude in mind when good fortune comes her way, giving 10 percent of any pay raise or tax refund to St. Jude. Victor supports her commitment the hospital, as well.
“He says there is nothing we can’t do for kids,” she says, “not just for our kids, but for any kids.”