Lightning-blue and fully loaded, the 2021 Ford Bronco donated by Calvin and Sarah Ford beckoned prospective buyers with its rugged, go-anywhere capabilities and the allure of owning a piece of automotive history.
And the vehicle, one of just 7,000 limited, first-edition Broncos to be built, offered bidders something else: a chance to support the mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
“We decided to donate the Bronco because it is a symbol of the Ford brand of legacy and commitment,” said Sarah Ford. “Our hope is that the Bronco will generate thousands of dollars so we can continue to fund the lifesaving treatment and research St. Jude does today and will continue to do until children everywhere do not have to lose their lives to cancer.”
When bidding ended, the vehicle had fetched a winning offer of $155,000, more than two-and-a-half times its estimated value of $59,305. The proceeds will go to St. Jude.
The auction highlighted Ford’s eagerly awaited reboot of the Bronco, which became a classic during a three-decades-long production run that ended 25 years ago.
The involvement of Calvin and Sarah Ford grew from their personal stories. First, there’s that last name, Ford — as in Henry Ford, Calvin’s great-great-grandfather.
Then there’s Sarah’s history with St. Jude, first as a patient treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia beginning at age 2, and later working for ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude.
"To me, St Jude is the place and the community that saved my life. The love and attention they gave me modeled a way of living for me," she said.
Sarah was given just a 50 percent chance of survival upon her diagnosis in 1985, so her parents opted to have her treated at St. Jude, she said, because it was on the "cutting-edge" of pediatric cancer research. Her doctor at St. Jude assured her parents that he would dance at Sarah's wedding, which he did when she and Calvin were married in 2011.
The Ford Bronco was among several items auctioned at the 2020 St. Jude Detroit Gala, an event dating back to the 1960s that honors the fundraising legacy of St. Jude founder and Michigan native Danny Thomas.
During the gala, a streaming event this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, guests heard a St. Jude patient story and listened to talks about the role Detroit played in the founding of the hospital, as well as the strides St. Jude continues to make on making childhood cancer a thing of the past.
“Detroit holds a special place in our hearts for being the city where Danny Thomas first prayed to St. Jude Thaddeus and vowed to build a shrine in his name,” said Richard C. Shadyac Jr., President and CEO of ALSAC. “Detroit is rich in history and legacy, and we are deeply appreciative of this passionate community which, through several generations since the founding of St. Jude, has demonstrated its long-standing commitment to our lifesaving mission.”