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Dawson's family never received a bill from St. Jude

As the rest of the nation watched the 2016 Super Bowl championship, David was in an ER, far from the celebrations, hearing those words he’ll never be able to erase from his thoughts: "Your son has cancer."

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Two days after his dad heard those chilling words, 9-year-old Dawson was airlifted to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, first into ICU to be stabilized, then to be treated for leukemia.

David talks about those days more comfortably today – Dawson is back home doing well — and focuses on something else he heard in those early days that stayed with him:

No family ever receives a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food — so they can focus on helping their child live.

“I have on my desk at home a bill for the Air Med trip from Baton Rouge to Memphis that afternoon. It was $15,000 to bring Dawson to St. Jude. That was just to get him started. I don’t have $15,000. My guess is most of you probably don’t have it and if you did you wouldn’t want to really use it for an airplane ride – unless it was to save your child and then you’d do anything you had to do. We just turned that bill over to St. Jude and they took care of it.”

Contributions from millions of donors make that possible. It’s what makes our operating model so unique. St. Jude treats approximately 8,500 patients a year and the costs of those treatments add up quickly and, most often, health insurance isn’t available, or sufficient, to cover them.

David recalls that all began to sink in when he discovered there’d be no charge for Dawson’s costly medications.

“The next thought I had was ‘Wow, we’re not the only family they're doing this for. It’s for families all over the world.”

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