One of my most deeply held beliefs is gratitude will make our lives richer if we reflect on it each day. When we do, we see ourselves as part of a community far greater than our individual selves.
I don’t have to go far to reflect on what to be grateful for: The walls of ALSAC headquarters on the campus of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital are lined with portraits of patients. Kids with wide, beaming smiles. Kids hugging friends and siblings or holding mom or dad tightly around their necks. Kids of all races, ethnicities and nationalities.
Each one is beautiful. And each life is a reason to be grateful.
Each is a reason to reflect on the millions of St. Jude supporters around the world whose generosity and commitment sustain the vision Danny Thomas shared nearly 60 years ago. He said then, “Those who work for the good are as those who do the good.”
Those words are emblazoned on a lobby wall here at ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude. And on that wall are the signatures of hundreds of supporters, volunteers, donors, ambassadors and colleagues. Each one working for the good. Each one doing all they can with purpose and compassion in their hearts to help ensure St. Jude patients keep those smiles.
I’m grateful for all of them. And for you, too, for all you do to keep our lifesaving mission moving forward. Especially now, during the pandemic, and as St. Jude embarks on a six-year, $11.5 billion strategic plan that will impact more kids here and around the world. And stay tuned, because there’s more to come.
The boldest tasks in life are not accomplished alone. When Danny unveiled the statue of St. Jude Thaddeus on opening day in 1962, he said, “It took your hearts and your loving minds and your generous souls to make this fabulous dream come true.”
He was grateful to the 9,000 gathered that day to witness the future of catastrophic pediatric disease research and treatment. He was grateful for the many thousands more around the country who had so generously worked for the good so that the good might begin.
It’s the same gratitude I feel today when I walk a 21st century St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital campus. It doesn’t look the same, 60 years on, but the same hope is still in the air. The same spark of possibility emanates from this sacred place just as it did when Danny opened the doors and proclaimed, “We’re going to begin with leukemia and by God’s grace, after defeating it, go on to other diseases.”
As we enter the holiday season, I reflect on what Danny started and just how far we’ve come. I see that progress every day here where I’m so lucky and grateful to serve this mission. The progress is seen in the growth of this once-small campus, but also in those faces and the deep, loving eyes of the kids smiling back at all of us.
But let’s remember, our work is not done as one in five children with cancer in the U.S. will still die, and four out of five children with cancer in low- and middle-income countries around the world are likely to die from their disease. That is simply unacceptable. Let’s let our gratitude fuel even greater accomplishments so even more children get to live lives filled with possibilities.