Celebrating 50 Extraordinary Years

Energetic entrepreneurs help hospital pursue Danny Thomas’ dream.

by Janice Hill

Celebrating 50 Extraordinary Years

Kathy and Bruce Makowsky, world-renowned handbag designers and importers, possess the dynamic, visionary energy of highly successful entrepreneur CEOs

combined with heartfelt passion for the children of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“I attended the Scientific Symposium a few years ago,” Kathy says. “It was a time in our lives when we decided to wind down our careers as co-presidents of Van Zeeland Inc., and consider what we wanted to do next.”

The symposium featured tours of the hospital and its long-term housing facility, Target House. Participants also heard from researchers and patient families.

“I fell in love with all of it,” Kathy recalls. “I immediately felt that it was my destiny to help these children.”

“I asked myself what could these families at Target House need that they don’t already have? Since it was November, I asked if there was a wish list for Christmas gifts.”

Kathy decided to fulfill the entire list. She contacted her sister businesses, and they all pitched in, providing all the gifts requested and much more. Kathy pledged to make it an annual tradition, and this year she expanded her donation to include the Ronald McDonald House of Memphis, one of the hospital’s other residential facilities.

Kathy and Bruce’s support extends far beyond the holidays, including generous outright gifts to the hospital, support for fundraising events and sharing the mission of St. Jude with others at every opportunity.

Kathy has returned to St. Jude several times. With each visit, her enthusiasm grows.

“My first visit was a life-changing day for me,” she says. “It was a place of so much hope. What I learned about research was eye opening­—for example, the fact that St. Jude customizes treatment for patients. Each visit teaches me more.”

The Makowskys feel that St. Jude is a great match with their business philosophy.

“My husband and I are entrepreneurs in the true sense of the word,” Kathy says. “We believe that if you have a good idea, anything is possible with passion and fortitude. I feel that same attitude at St. Jude, and it is the same passion that drove Danny Thomas to build the hospital 50 years ago. He had a dream that no child should die in the dawn of life—and I know that St. Jude will work until that dream comes true.”

Reprinted from Promise Spring 2012

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