Berta Mendez first heard of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital when she saw a Spanish-language television spot with singer Luis Fonsi for the St. Jude Thanks and Giving® campaign.
Two weeks later her daughter, Ana, 8, was found to have acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common childhood cancer. “In that moment, the word ‘death’ came into my mind,” Berta says.
Then she started thinking about the hospital she had seen in the commercial. Could there be a reason that she noticed that ad among the thousands of commercials on TV during the holidays? Grasping a sliver of hope, Berta asked her doctor in Kansas for a referral to St. Jude.
Three years later, Ana is 11 and has recently completed chemotherapy at St. Jude. During treatment, she starred in a St. Jude Thanks and Giving television spot with George Lopez. According to her mother, Ana was “super proud” to be part of the campaign so she could give hope to other children.
Since its inception in 2004, the St. Jude Thanks and Giving campaign has raised money and awareness to provide hope and help for children like Ana. And no family ever pays St. Jude for anything.
The St. Jude Thanks and Giving campaign — created by Marlo, Terre and Tony Thomas, the children of St. Jude founder Danny Thomas — has raised more than $312 million since it began. This unique campaign unites more than 60 brands nationwide that encourage their customers to give to St. Jude through add-ons at the register or by purchasing specialty merchandise during the holiday shopping season.
Partners in the campaign include Kmart, CVS/pharmacy, ANN INC., DICK’S Sporting Goods, Kay Jewelers, Target, GNC, Williams-Sonoma Inc., Domino’s Pizza and many more.
“I am so grateful to the amazing group of partners that have come together for the past nine years for our St. Jude Thanks and Giving campaign” says St. Jude National Outreach Director Marlo Thomas. “Their support helps ensure that St. Jude can continue the lifesaving research and care that has brought hope to so many families and helps bring us closer to the day when my father’s dream — that no child shall die in the dawn of life — becomes a reality.”
The St. Jude Thanks and Giving message is simple: “Give thanks for the healthy kids in your life and give to those who are not.”
Beginning in November, shoppers will see the St. Jude logo identifying retailers who are joining the battle to save children fighting cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Employees at these companies will help raise as many donations as possible to support the hospital.
Each year, influential television spots for the campaign feature patients with Marlo Thomas, as well as celebrity friends Jennifer Aniston, Robin Williams, Shaun White, Sofia Vergara, Michael Strahan and Puerto Rican musician Luis Fonsi. These memorable spots air on broadcast and cable networks and online. In addition, the celebrities are featured in a movie trailer that shares the St. Jude story nationwide in theaters including Regal Entertainment Group, Cinemark USA, Carmike Cinemas and many more.
The fundraising efforts are reinforced with a national blitz of media including television appearances by St. Jude patients and Marlo Thomas. Marlo will also appear on NBC’s TODAY show for five consecutive days during Thanksgiving week to share heartwarming stories about St. Jude patients and the hospital’s work.
It’s easy to get involved in the campaign. Donors can shop wherever they see the St. Jude logo; visit stjude.org and make a donation or send e-cards in honor or memory of loved ones; join the campaign on Facebook; or register for the St. Jude Give thanks. Walk.™ — a 5K walk that serves as the kick-off to the St. Jude Thanks and Giving campaign November 17 in 90 cities nationwide.
As Ana’s story shows, the campaign raises awareness as well as funds for St. Jude, which treats children fighting cancer and other life-threatening diseases with pioneering research and exceptional care.
Today, Ana is a happy young girl who loves roller-skating and watching Hannah Montana. Throughout her treatment, she kept up with her schoolwork through the St. Jude School Program Presented by Target. She will celebrate her 12th birthday Christmas Day.
There is no place like St. Jude, Berta says, noting that the hospital also helped Ana’s siblings through the Child Life and Social Work programs.
“Even though I arrived at St. Jude with the word ‘death’ on my mind, that has changed completely,” she says. “At St. Jude I almost feel like we are adopted, that we have a family.”
To learn more about the St. Jude Thanks and Giving campaign, please visit stjude.org. There you will find a complete list of St. Jude Thanks and Giving partners with details about where to shop and how to donate. You can also donate now by calling 1-800-4STJUDE.
Reprinted from Promise Autumn 2012