'Tooning in' at St. Jude

Famous cartoonists used their drawing talents to bring gleeful smiles to the faces of St. Jude kids.

 

When cartoonist Steve McGarry and his family — wife Debbie and twin sons — moved to California from England in 1989, they were not familiar with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

That soon changed. Moved by the hospital’s mission, the McGarrys began supporting St. Jude shortly after their move. And now he and his colleagues in the National Cartoonists Society (NCS) are encouraging others to support the hospital.

McGarry, known for his work as artist and writer of the newspaper feature Biography, and story artist for the films Despicable Me 2, Minions, and The Secret Life of Pets, serves as president of the NCS Foundation, the cartoonist group’s charitable organization. He also helped create Cartooning for Kids, which brought a group of cartoonists to St. Jude in 2015 to draw for St. Jude patients and raise awareness for the hospital’s work in fighting childhood cancer.

“It’s so rewarding, so illuminating, when you sit down and draw for youngsters and see what pleasure they get out of it.”

Cartoonist Steve McGarry

 

After that initial visit to St. Jude, the 500-member NCS decided to host its 2016 Reuben Awards, the society’s most prestigious honors, in Memphis, Tennessee, with a return visit to St. Jude. The group again drew cartoons for St. Jude patients and families, which McGarry hopes will become an annual occurrence, and hosted a fundraiser dinner on the St. Jude campus that raised $70,000.

During the first week of August, the NCS hosted an auction of original artwork that raised more than $11,000 for St. Jude.

The NCS has long been involved with the USO, visiting troops stateside and abroad. McGarry said it was easy to expand that charitable effort to helping children.

“I didn’t even have to think about it,” McGarry said. “To me, St. Jude is synonymous with children’s healthcare, and everybody felt the same.”

McGarry said he admires that 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. And he wants to continue growing the NCS Foundation’s work with St. Jude.

“We would like to be part of the St. Jude family nationwide,” McGarry said. “As St. Jude volunteers start to put their events together, be aware that there are cartoonists in the area who want to roll up their sleeves and join in.”

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