For modern-day Renaissance woman Sandra Kitt, using her many gifts to help children battling cancer and other life-threatening illnesses at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital just makes sense. Kitt, a successful romance author, illustrator and artist, has even written a fictional novel about a St. Jude patient.
Her relationship with St. Jude began when she was asked to participate on a St. Jude advisory board to help raise awareness for the hospital among minority groups. After the experience, said Kitt, “I felt like I wanted to do more personally, and I decided to write a book and give the proceeds to St. Jude.”
Her book, titled For All We Know, is set in Memphis, Tennessee, where the hospital is located, and features African-American characters who are dealing with the struggles experienced by children battling pediatric HIV. “As an African-American, I became very interested in the pediatric AIDS issues that seemed to affect the African-American community to a disproportionate degree. I wanted to write a book about the work that St. Jude is doing, and that would speak directly to the problem of the spread of HIV that is so preventable,” she said. In 1992, St. Jude became a National Institutes of Health Pediatric AIDS Clinical Trials Unit.
Kitt has visited St. Jude several times and said, “We use the title 'hero' for people in public service, like policemen or firemen, and they do go above and beyond, no question. But, I don’t think that comes close to the heroism of these children. They are so brave. Even though they don’t completely understand what’s happening to them, they don’t complain; they deal with it.”
“I find St. Jude’s mission to be truly selfless and extraordinary,” said Kitt. “It’s always about the children, and St. Jude puts all their money where their mouth is — directly to the research and treatment of children from all over the world!”