I’ll never forget the day I met a young, gangly, up and coming high school basketball star whose dreams of college hoops, then the NBA, were derailed by a diagnosis of cancer.
I was left to imagine the emotions churning inside Nick that day because this tall, talented teen was as shy as nearly anyone I’d ever encountered.
So, I hope you can imagine my emotions when young Nick, who discovered music as an outlet to express those feelings during three years of chemotherapy at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, stood on stage one recent Saturday morning and performed two original songs for nearly 10,000 strangers.
Nick stands as a very tall testament to the remarkable mission of St. Jude: every life saved creates a lifetime of possibilities.
Nick, 19 now and topping 6’6’’, is just beginning to write his story. Basketball. Music. Both are possible career paths. (He already has an album on iTunes®.) Proudly, wherever that life takes him, this site, St. Jude Inspire, will be there to tell his story.
St. Jude Inspire was created to do justice to the stories that unfold every day in and around the special mission Danny Thomas ignited decades ago to end childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. There’s probably no better evidence of the impact of this unique mission than the first story in our St. Jude StoriedLives series that appears on these pages.
Every life saved creates a lifetime of possibilities.
Dwight Tosh was our 17th patient, admitted just weeks after Danny cut the ribbon on his new hospital in 1962. His cure created a lifetime of possibilities: a long career as a law enforcement officer; and years in state politics. Kids and grandkids.
It’s instructive to look back on his story to understand how far we’ve come. When Dwight, himself a tall teenager who dreamed of a basketball career, returned to rural Arkansas after his cancer protocol, many in the community feared he was contagious because he’d been at a new ‘experimental’ hospital. Yes, we have those years behind us, but far too many children live in places across the developing world where their odds to survive childhood cancer are still worse than the odds young Dwight faced in 1962.
So, it’s more critical than ever that broad new audiences are exposed to our story. The stories made possible by the work of a remarkable legion of St. Jude doctors, nurses, researchers and staff. St. Jude Inspire shines a bright new light on the stories of courage and perseverance of patients. Of the unwavering support of our bereaved families. And millions of donors. Corporate partners. Even entire communities that have adopted Danny’s goal to end childhood cancer as their own.
The name — St. Jude Inspire — speaks to our goal: to inspire trust, hope, faith in our mission. And, ultimately, we hope it inspires you to donate or volunteer. We need your help to reach Danny’s once-audacious goal to conquer childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. So that no matter where a child lives around the world, Danny’s dream rings true: No child should die in the dawn of life.®
Richard C. Shadyac Jr. is President and CEO of American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.