Danny Thomas, in black and white
A cold winter night leads to a powerful, chance encounter between two parents of St. Jude patients.
00:01 Allison: He said, "I wanna name her Jessica." I think I wanted to name her Emily or Emma. It just made a lot more sense, so she was named after the little girl that fell down the well.
00:14 Allison: It's all part of the...
00:15 Interviewer: It's a circle of life.
00:16 Allison: It really is, it's really amazing.
00:19 Allison: It is amazing, it is. Did she tell you about Caleb, the story about Caleb? She had fever. It was in December when we went in. You know how December is in Memphis, it was probably 50 to 55 degrees. When we went in, she was in for maybe four days. When she came out it was like minus something, literally, minus something; an extreme Christmas cold snap.
00:48 Steve: I work at a college in Memphis, and I was working late on a video project, I'd do some editing, and I was editing some video together.
01:00 Allison: And it was late at night.
01:01 Steve: It got pretty late, it was at least... It was later than 12, maybe 1 o'clock, might have even been bit later than that, and I'm cutting down the Interstate, I'm on my way home, and off to the side of the road, I saw a car with its flashers on, hood open, and it was really cold and spitting snow. And I'm sitting thinking, "I saw the car," and then I'm driving down a little farther, and I see someone on the side of the road.
01:34 Allison: And there was a guy walking.
01:35 Steve: I'm like, where you see... Where the road drops off on the expressway, I see someone walking along and this person, I go, "Oh my gosh, I cannot leave that person."
01:50 Allison: Well, my ex-husband is a person that feeds the homeless, and you know, real soft-hearted, and he's pulled over and he's like, "Man, it's too cold. Do you need a ride?"
02:00 Steve: It was a long way to the next exit.
02:02 Allison: And he said, "Yeah, sure. I thank you so much," and then he said he had this lump in his coat.
02:12 Steve: I had just passed him so I pulled over and stopped. I'm not really a person that normally stops for people, but it was just so cold. And I noticed that he's kinda in his jacket, he's kinda leaning over, and he's kind of holding on to something in his jacket.
02:35 Allison: He started to unzip, he's like, "Great, he's got an Uzi or something in there."
02:39 Steve: And I'm sure, and as he gets closer, I still see him holding on to this thing in this jacket, he's got it wrapped around, and he's got kinda this bear hug on it, and I'm sure he's gonna pull out an Uzi and take me out, I didn't know. So he gets over and he gets into the passenger side and he unwraps and I see... I hear him say, "You okay buddy?" And he unwraps his jacket, and it's a little boy is in there. It was Caleb and they had just left the hospital, and when the kids get fever, they have to take them to the hospital immediately, that's the way it is because it's just, you just have to be careful. So they had taken him... He'd gone to the hospital and with his son, and something happened to his car and... Anyway, and when he unwrapped his jacket and he pulled that little boy out, that was really, really something, that I go, "What are you guys doing out here?" Anyway, then he tells the story.
03:56 Allison: He said, "Well, my car broke down back there. He's like, "My son is a St. Jude patient, he'd been in the hospital."
04:03 Steve: And I take him home, and it was quite a surreal moment. I take him home and... Years... I'm not sure how much longer. I found out that the little boy had passed. I went to the funeral. Didn't really know them, his name was Caleb, didn't really know them, but I'm a St. Jude dad, I'm just... Relate to this. And I just wanted to be there. And then they sent me a card afterwards, and they said, "I know you think we don't know who you are but we thank you for being there for us when we really needed you." Anyway, it was my honor to be part of that. I remember when I told Allison this story. I said as I pulled out of their driveway and was heading towards home, I looked... I adjusted my mirror to look in the backseat 'cause I just kinda like, was fully totally sure that Danny Thomas was in my backseat.
05:38 Allison: Literally, he looked in the backseat to see if Danny Thomas was there.
05:41 Steve: I think he was in black and white 'cause I always felt Danny Thomas, he was always in black and white.
05:46 Allison: What are the chances?
05:47 Steve: So a little... I think I looked in the mirror and I look behind me, just to make sure.
05:51 Allison: That I'm gonna be driving down this road right now and pick up this little boy and his dad.
06:00 Steve: 'Cause I really felt, I go, "I do what I thought I should do, Danny."