On this St. Jude Founder’s Day and World Cancer Day we renew our resolve to make cures possible for every child — everywhere
In 61 years, St. Jude has changed the way the world looks at and treats childhood cancer. Together, we know we can do more.
February 02, 2023 • 3 min
Every year at this time, as we reflect on the anniversary of the opening of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital on Feb. 4, 1962. I am awed by the courage it took for Danny Thomas to take his dream to the world.
Sixty-one years ago, there was no blueprint to follow. Nothing like St. Jude existed. Yet, Danny shared his bold and audacious vision with people just like you. He asked for their time and energy and hard-earned money to help save the lives of kids they may never meet.
It took extreme courage and optimism for Danny to open the first fully integrated pediatric research hospital in a segregated South.
Think of the optimism it took to name, as the initial goal, the cure of childhood leukemia, a disease with just a 4 percent survival rate. A disease the medical community knew little about and which was killing nearly every child afflicted. Parents were being told to celebrate half-birthdays because their children were unlikely to make it to their “real” birthday.
Danny was told it would be impossible. Told it was a task that would break his heart. But Danny always believed it was possible. And that certitude has carried through every doctor and decade at St. Jude.
Over six decades, St. Jude has grown its research and treatment capabilities, its supporter base and the scope and reach of its mission.
Sixty-one years later, I’m just as optimistic today that we can bring equity to pediatric healthcare. This time on a global scale. Because of all of you.
We continue to forge paths uniting people under the umbrella of this mission. People just like you who have made Danny’s dream their own.
We find ourselves once again with the opportunity to prove nothing is impossible when we work together.
Bold? Absolutely. Confidence is a synonym of optimism. But so is hope.
As I look at this, our 61st anniversary, I’m so optimistic and hopeful for the year ahead and all it promises.
Thanks to our partner Domino’s, The Domino’s Village will open this spring, offering living space for families who travel to St. Jude from across the country and around the world.
Just last week we celebrated the opening of Family Commons, made possible by our good friends at AbbVie and their historic $50 million gift, as non-clinical space where patients can rest, recharge and play during long days of treatment.
In the fall, through St. Jude’s partnership with the World Health Organization, the first dozen countries in need will begin receiving free, consistent, quality assured cancer medicines. No child with cancer should go without lifesaving medical treatment just because of where they live. This $200 million initiative alone is expected to impact more than 120,000 kids with cancer in 50 countries within five years.
Because of efforts like this and support like yours, kids with cancer in Ghana and Uganda will one day have access to treatment, and opportunities at life, similar to those in California and Louisiana, and right here at St. Jude in Memphis.
It’s a goal that may seem impossible — more than 400,000 kids globally are affected by cancer each year. And four out of five children with cancer in low- to middle- income countries do not survive because of lack of access to quality care.
But at St. Jude, we believe children all over the world deserve the best chance at survival, regardless of where they live. That’s why we’re working with doctors and institutions worldwide to make sure they have a chance to survive. But we can’t do it alone. We need doctors and researchers, volunteers and supporters — like you — to make it possible.
When I think about the future, I’m filled with optimism. It’s hope, fortified through decades of generous, selfless support. It’s knowing that together, we will make cures possible for every child. Everywhere.