The first time I visited St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, I was 16 years old and had agreed to do a skateboard demo in the hospital’s parking lot. At that age, I was involved in my own world. I didn’t really think about much except my schoolwork, my parents and family, and whatever task was at hand. So, I was taken aback when I came to the hospital for the first time. I was blown away to see all the hope and love in the patients and families in spite of all they were going through.
That really struck a chord with me. You see, soon after I was born, I had to undergo two open heart surgeries, and my parents lived in the hospital with me. During that time, my sister also had some medical complications. It was a crazy time for my family. When I visited St. Jude years later, it gave me a glimpse into what my family had gone through.
As a teen meeting those St. Jude families, I realized how deeply an experience like this affects the whole family. I had not really understood that before.
Since that time, I’ve visited St. Jude often, spending time with the kids and their families. I’ve also taken part in quite a few events and other activities to support the hospital.
Several years ago, my brother and I helped redesign the living room area at Target House, the hospital’s long-term housing facility. We remodeled the common area to be the coolest place, containing oversized lamps and a coffee table made of broken skateboards and a wall of pictures. I’ve gotten to see the kids enjoying themselves in that space. It means a lot to see that.
I’ve been going there long enough now that I’ve seen patients get better, leave the hospital and go on to live their lives. I really believe there are miracles taking place at St. Jude.
Because St. Jude relies on donations, they need our support to keep the doors open. It’s an incredible feeling to be able to help make that possible for the families. And it’s a powerful thing to be able to brighten up their day during a dark time.
From Promise, Autumn 2016