While growing his company over the past 25 years, Chickballapur “Manju” Manjunath became an admirer of something he noticed about many of the most successful people he encountered.
“One thing I have learned,” he says, “is that Americans are very generous people.”
An engineer who immigrated from India to his current home in New Jersey in the 1980s, Manjunath became aware of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital through its affiliation with the PGA TOUR. An avid golfer, he researched St. Jude and has been a generous supporter ever since.
“I saw this fantastic organization, and that money donated goes to treatment and investments in research,” he says. “I said to myself, ‘If I can do something good, let me donate to someone making very good use of the funds.’”
A few years ago, Manjunath visited St. Jude, along with employees of his company, Benaka, Inc., a defense contractor.
“Seeing the children and the families makes you feel humbled and grounded,” Manjunath says. “You feel so fortunate for your own children’s health. At the end of the day, you feel part of something amazing. It makes your heart glad.”
That visit included a stop at the hospital’s Computational Biology Department to take a photo of a plaque commemorating one of the major gifts Manjunath and Benaka have made to St. Jude. The plaque offers a tribute to Supriya, daughter of one of Manjunath’s close friends from India.
Supriya had cancer as a teenager in college and, sadly, did not survive.
“When I sent the photo of the plaque to my friends,” Manjunath says, “it meant so much to them to see it.”
Jinghui Zhang, PhD, Computational Biology chair, provided an overview of the department’s work investigating the human genome for clues to the cause of cancer in young people like Supriya — and knowledge that may lead to cures. Zhang emphasized that St. Jude freely shares the discoveries it makes with the world.
“It was an honor,” Manjunath says, “to meet someone trying to better the human race and find cures for these deadly diseases. And to know you are helping.”
From Promise, Summer 2019