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ALSAC/ St. Jude’s Richard Shadyac receives prestigious 2017 Ellis Island Medal of Honor

ALSAC President and CEO honored among top philanthropists, government and business leaders for his lifetime of service to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the global fight against childhood cancer

Memphis, Tennessee, May 15, 2017

Richard C. Shadyac, Jr., President and CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, received the 2017 Ellis Island Medal of Honor, a prestigious award for individuals that have embraced America’s ideals of patriotism, tolerance, brotherhood and diversity, in a May 13 ceremony on Ellis Island in New York.

Presented by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor recognizes “individuals who have made it their mission to share with those less fortunate their wealth of knowledge, indomitable courage, boundless compassion, unique talents and selfless generosity; all while maintaining the traditions of their ethnic heritage as they uphold the ideals and spirit of America.”

Under Rick’s leadership since 2009, the American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities (ALSAC) has become the largest healthcare charity in America, generating more than 75% of funds needed to operate and sustain St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Paul Ayoub, chairman of the board of ALSAC said, “It was so fitting for Rick to be honored on Ellis Island, one of America’s greatest symbols of immigrant history. The grandson of Lebanese immigrants, Rick has spent his entire life devoted to St. Jude Founder Danny Thomas’ vision that no child die in the dawn of life. St. Jude was founded on the principle that all children regardless of race, religion or ability to pay would be treated equally. Today St. Jude has taken the overall childhood cancer survival rates from 20 percent to 80 percent, but we will not stop until no child dies from cancer. The story of the founding of ALSAC and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is beautiful immigrant story that should forever be celebrated.”

Rick’s father, Richard Shadyac, Sr. received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 1999 when he served as ALSAC CEO. Shadyac, Sr. was personally tapped by Danny Thomas from the beginning to help with fundraising needed to begin St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Danny Thomas opened St. Jude in 1962 as a way to say thank you to God and the United States of America for the opportunities given to him and his fellow citizens of Arab descent. Today, St. Jude is supported by millions of generous donors from communities everywhere. Danny's daughter, Marlo Thomas, National Outreach Director for St. Jude, also received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 1999 following in the footsteps of her father who received the honor in 1990.

Since its founding in 1986, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor has been officially recognized by both Houses of Congress as one of the United States’ most prestigious awards. Past recipients include six Presidents of the United States, as well as esteemed Americans such as Frank Sinatra, Lee Iacocca, Quincy Jones, Muhammad Ali, Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, Louis Zamperini and Rosa Parks.

Among other 2017 recipients are Dr. Buzz Aldrin, Mindy Grossman, Governor John Kasich, Indra Nooyi and global honoree, Malala Yousafzai. A full listing of the 2017 Ellis Island Medal of Honor recipients is available here.

Prior to joining ALSAC as CEO in 2009, Rick served as the chairman and president of the ALSAC Board of Directors. He was an active board member since 2000. A practicing attorney for 27 years, Rick also worked as a partner in the Washington D.C./Northern Virginia law firm, Feldesman Tucker Leifer Fidell, LLP. He has been named the CEO of the Year from Inside Memphis Business and the Corporate Social Responsibility's CEO of the Year. 

About St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. It is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20 percent to 80 percent since the hospital opened more than 50 years ago. St. Jude is working to drive the overall survival rate for childhood cancer to 90 percent, and we won’t stop until no child dies from cancer. St. Jude freely shares the discoveries it makes, and every child saved at St. Jude means doctors and scientists worldwide can use that knowledge to save thousands more children. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.  Join the St. Jude mission by visiting or following St. Jude on and