Kat Watson was a high school freshman when her mother, Pam Clinger Frye, received a cancer diagnosis.
Watson watched her mother lose her battle, an experience she says she wouldn’t wish on anyone.
Watson did her best to turn her grief into something positive. When she decided to dedicate her 19th birthday to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, she thought about what it would have been like if the roles had been reversed: What if she had been the one with cancer—how would that have affected her family? Watson recalls watching her mother worry about bills, fighting to keep family life as normal as possible during treatment.
“I wanted to help other people not to have to worry about that,” Watson says.
Because she knew that no family ever receives a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food, she decided to make a difference by supporting St. Jude.
“I thought that was genius, and I wanted to be able to help as much as I could,” Watson says. “St. Jude relies on donors, and I wanted to be one of those donors to help a child not worry.”
When Kat Watson blew out 19 candles on her most recent birthday cake, her celebration benefited the kids of St. Jude.
Watson raised $1,515 this past September through the Birthdays for St. Jude program, in which St. Jude supporters simply set up personal fundraising pages at stjude.org/birthdays and ask friends and family to donate to the hospital as a birthday gift.
Watson, who hails from Austin, Texas, and studies multi-media journalism at Oklahoma State University, discovered Birthdays for St. Jude while searching stjude.org for internship opportunities.
“Even though it wasn’t interning, I would still be helping other people by helping fundraise for the kids who are burdened by cancer, and are taken away from their childhood, somewhat, to be thrown into this terrible situation,” Watson says. “I wanted to help make it easier for them and their families.”
Watson had never fundraised on her own before—she had only helped out at events hosted by others. That made her a little nervous at the start of her efforts. But after experiencing tremendous support from friends and family, Watson plans to dedicate her birthday to St. Jude again.
Find out more about donating your birthday: stjude.org/birthdays
From Promise, Spring 2016