The annual St. Jude Detroit Gala raised $260,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, continuing a legacy of fundraising started by Michigan native and hospital founder Danny Thomas.
The Detroit Gala has taken place in the Motor City since the 1960s in some form, according to event co-chair George Simon. But a renewed emphasis on the event since 2012 has resulted in fundraising of more than $880,000.
Simon follows in his parents’ footsteps and serves as a member of the ALSAC/St. Jude Boards of Directors and Governors. He has chaired or co-chaired the Detroit Gala for 20 years.
“The passion for the organization and its mission drives me,” Simon said. “I’m a legacy member. My father and mother were both very much involved in the early times of Danny’s dream. As a child, I lived, breathed and ate St. Jude/ALSAC.”
The gala was held October 17 at the MGM Grand Detroit. About 340 people attended and enjoyed a cocktail hour, dinner, live and silent auctions, and the inspiring story of a St. Jude patient who was diagnosed at age 3 and is now a young mother herself. Richard Shadyac Jr. also spoke at the event.
Among the auction items were a private dinner for 12, which sold for $7,000; tickets to the Masters Tournament, which netted $6,500; and a watch set from Shinola, a Detroit-based watch manufacturer, which sold for $3,400.
Simon’s event co-chair Manal Saab is a St. Jude emeritus board member. Simon describes himself and Saab as “proud beggars,” a term Danny Thomas often used to describe his efforts to raise the funds to build and maintain St. Jude.
“We’re just trying to do our best to help the mission,” he said.
Overall, Simon said the event was a great success and he plans to continue his involvement with St. Jude and the Detroit Gala for years to come. “The hope that we can accomplish the mission drives me and keeps me going. There are still children in need.”