It takes a staggering amount of money, by any measure, to operate St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Well over $1 billion.
To advance research that often cannot be done anywhere else. To deliver lifesaving care no matter what it costs. To freely share discoveries that can be built upon to save more children worldwide. And, fundamental since Day One, to ensure no family ever receives a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food, so they can focus on helping their child heal.
And think of how we get there — a little at a time. Forty-three dollars at a time. That’s the average donation to St. Jude.
And sometimes, it’s a lot less. Some of our most beloved donors give what they can and it's so meaningful. I’m thinking of Caroline, an 8-year-old girl who sent a single dollar bill and 40 cents in change to ALSAC’s Charlotte, North Carolina, office with a letter that brought employees there to tears — “little things,” she wrote, “go a long way." So true and so wise and from an 8-year-old.
I’m thinking back to Billy Johnson, the blind boy who shouted out to our founder Danny Thomas while he was speaking to a crowd in Peoria, Illinois. “Hey, Danny!” he said. “I want to help the poor, sick kids!” He offered an envelope containing 75 cents. The gift so touched Danny he had the coins placed in the cornerstone of the marble statue of St. Jude Thaddeus unveiled during the 1962 hospital dedication.
Yes, it almost seems impossible to get to more than $1 billion a few coins at a time. And yet we know our economic model is a sound one from way back.
Danny, you’ll remember, said, “I’d rather have a million people give me a dollar than one give me a million. That way you’ve got a million people involved.”
Imagine how thrilled, how grateful, Danny would be to know we now have more than 11 million active donors. And it takes each and every one of them to make this mission possible. Every gift counts. Think of all the love they represent. Love for children they’ll never know, to fund crucial research and treatment to help children worldwide.
If you’re reading this, you know I’m talking about you. I’m talking about your support, your loyalty, your dedication, your belief in the mission and the trust you place in us to carry it out. I’m talking about your love for kids and the cause of St. Jude.
Think of what we’ve accomplished, together — with all of you. When St. Jude opened in 1962, the survival rate for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) was 4 percent. Today, it’s 94 percent.
The average cost to treat one child with ALL? It can be more than $400,000 — another staggering number.
But nothing’s impossible with you, our donors, no matter the size of your gift. Because all that love adds up as you prove day in, day out. For that, we are forever grateful and humbled.
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.