When Dr. Donald Mack opened his pediatric practice in Shreveport, La., in 1961, he said, “I was very young and very cocky and felt like I could cure anything except childhood cancer.”
Just six weeks later, he saw his first patient with leukemia and — because of treatment limitations at the time — sadly lost the child within a few months. When St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital opened in 1962, Mack sent his second leukemia patient there, becoming the first doctor to refer an out-of-state patient to St. Jude. That patient lived longer, and the third patient Mack referred to St. Jude for treatment “is now in Houston, making a great living and is a great asset to the United States. That makes you feel good; it makes you feel like you did something right.”
During his long career, Mack referred many patients to St. Jude for pioneering cancer treatment. The pediatrician also began the St. Jude fundraising program known as the St. Jude Dream Home® Giveaway, which has raised more than $315 million nationwide to date. Shreveport alone raised $27.8 million in the first 24 years and looks forward to its 25th St. Jude Dream Home on Aug. 16.
I was very young and very cocky and felt like I could cure anything except childhood cancer.
The idea to give away a house originated when someone donated a pre-fabricated house to Mack. Ticket sales for a chance to win the home raised $160,000 for St. Jude, giving momentum to the program that has now expanded to more than 30 cities.
In Shreveport, partners in the KTBS 3/St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway have been committed to St. Jude since the beginning, Mack said. They include the builder, Rodgers Homes and Construction; the television station, KTBS 3, and the Epsilon Sigma Alpha (ESA) service fraternity, which manages ticket sales. “Without them I could not have gotten out the first door,” he said.