20 moments that gave us hope even in 2020

St. Jude patients and supporters shine in a pandemic

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  •  4 min


Has a year ever been so infamous even as it unfolded? Ever wonder if "2020" becomes the "Murphy's Law" of the COVID generation?

The year brought with it numerous other changes in our vocabulary: social distancing, masking, and, regrettably, an unprecedented use of the word "unprecedented."

But 2020 was also a year of the inspiring. Our patients and supporters of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital showed their mettle time and again. Their passion and hope shined through the clouds in every success story, in every act of generosity. To celebrate the end of 2020,  we're looking back at 20 indisputably shining moments in, yes we said it, this unprecedented year.




A recent COVID-19 discovery at St. Jude kicks off our countdown and gives us hope for more breakthroughs in the year ahead.

Using their gifts for good


Memphis-born, world-renowned artist, Derek Fordjour, made his mark on the art world, and now St. Jude, with a gifted painting that raised more than $410,000 for us at private auction.


YouTuber and "Game Theorists" MatPat and Stephanie spread their support of St. Jude to far corners of the internet, raising a whopping $3 million on December 1, 2020, otherwise known as Giving Tuesday.


We go all out every September to spread the word during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and this year we got a lot of help from our celebrity friends, who together shared the mission of St. Jude for 30 days of CCAM.

Finding new ways to celebrate


St. Jude patient Quincy collaborated with award-winning singer-songwriter Donnie McClurkin to write a celebration song. They performed it hours later at the St. Jude Celebration of Hope event in January.


By sharing their very intimate, personal story in a new podcast, the family of St. Jude survivor Jessica Turri gives hope to a new generation of St. Jude patients — and families. This is what giving back looks like in 2020.


Despite COVID-19, and with safety top of mind, the patients at St. Jude found a way to continue the jubilant tradition of the No More Chemo party, with Isabella and Pops as prime examples that it's still important to mark the end of treatment with confetti.


Our resident football expert, Buffalo Bills fanatic and St. Jude survivor Jake Marshall gets what he dreams of: a turn in front of the camera, in multiple features on CBS Sports and his own show.


Leticia and Enrique celebrate the memory of their beloved daughter Arianna with eight random acts of kindness each year on her birthday. COVID-19 made it harder, but they found ways to safely honor this tradition, and Arianna.


Turns out food has a whole lot to do with St. Jude, from nutrition to comfort to culture. Former patient and chef Carly helps us tell this story with the launch of our first cooking show, Cooking with Carly.

Driving forces to achieve


When our St. Jude kids grow up, they work hard and go big. John survived treatment-resistant leukemia as a child to then earn the distinction of high school valedictorian this year.


St. Jude survivor Jessica Sims earned her degree in chemical engineering this spring. She has her sights set on mentoring other girls and women of color looking to make their way in STEM-related fields.


St. Jude dad Chris kept up his training despite the cancellation of the 2020 St. Jude IRONMAN 70.3, spurred on as his son Calvin's cancer returned for a second time. During a break from chemo in August, Calvin and his dad climbed to the top of Colorado’s Signal Peak, an elevation of more than 9,000 feet.


A less-than-ideal climate and the COVID-19 pandemic did not keep Courtney from her higher education in the Ivy League. A sickle cell disease patient at St. Jude from before birth, Courtney finished her first year at Cornell University via distance learning during the pandemic.


California teen and St. Jude supporter Hollis Belger keeps breaking her own record. We'll remember 2020 as the year Hollis surpassed the $500,000 mark in funds raised through Juggling for Jude.

Catching the feels


Janet Sanchez buys a St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway ticket ever year, but 2020 was the year she had the winning ticket. And the 2020 Billings, Montana, Dream Home was none other than Janet's childhood home, fully renovated and now her forever home.


Even as the world mourned the death of Black Panther actor Chadwick Boseman, he posthumously inspired St. Jude patients and supporters alike. St. Jude was flooded with donations in his memory, and St. Jude patient Zoe reflected on her 2018 meeting with Boseman.


It's really getting misty in here. St. Jude patient Cole comes home to his beloved dog Stannis after brain cancer treatment in this sweet family moment shared on our TikTok channel.


We saw the pandemic, and St. Jude, bring out the best in so many people. You volunteered, baked, made masks, cared for animals. It was all too much and somehow just enough. See more on the Inspired By Your Kindness blog to be reminded of the kindness of strangers.


And, finally, there's beautiful baby Imani who celebrated her first birthday in November 2020. At the end of 2019, her parents were told she had two weeks to live, but Imani got another chance to survive a rare brain tumor at St. Jude. So for this family, 2020 became the year of new beginnings and, wonderfully, Imani's first giggle. Happy birthday, Imani. For this reason alone, we can call 2020 a really good year.