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Honoring three dreamers: Entrepreneur, artist, civic leader to receive top accolades at St. Jude Spirit of the Dream

Trailblazing businesswoman, master potter and community leader to be recognized for Memphis impact and embodying lifesaving mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Memphis, Tennessee, May 7, 2024

The annual St. Jude Spirit of the Dream presented by W&T Contracting Corporation announced today the recipients of its two highest accolades: the Legacy Award and the St. Jude Spirit of the Dream award. The awards will be presented on Sept. 21, 2024 at The Guesthouse at Graceland during this annual event celebrating African Americans who embody the mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® and help advance its efforts to research and treat childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases.


Recognizes the work of a St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital or ALSAC team member who demonstrates exemplary commitment to the legacy of St. Jude by encompassing the true spirit of caring for people. 

AC Wharton.

A C Wharton Jr.
Lifelong Public Leader and Advocate

Wharton is the executive director of development at ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and is the lead principal of The A C Wharton Group, LLC consulting firm. He has served as the mayor of Shelby County and Memphis as well as chief public defender for Shelby County and was a professor of law at the University of Mississippi. During his time in public service and higher education, Wharton focused on legal systems, child welfare, healthcare, fiscal soundness and crime prevention. His clients in the consulting firm include numerous nonprofit agencies. Wharton has contributed to the mission of St. Jude by cultivating relationships with groups and organizations such as Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc., Jack & Jill of America, The Links Inc., Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and the National Medical Association. He is a native of Lebanon, Tennessee and a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.




Honors a person or institution embodying the lifesaving mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and its founder Danny Thomas.

Peter Woods throws a cup on a pottery wheel.

Peter Woods
Artist with a Cause

Born and raised in Mound Bayou, Mississippi, Woods is an artist of humble beginnings whose work is now well-known throughout the U.S. He started making pottery when he was just 13, which formed the basis of a lifelong passion. In 1998, Woods and his brothers started Peter's Pottery, a family business creating art that has attracted people from all over the world to Mound Bayou. Family is also at the core of Woods’ connection to St. Jude. His great-nephew has sickle cell disease and is a St. Jude patient. In 2023, Woods committed to raise $100,000 for St. Jude and in December of 2023 he presented a check to St. Jude for the full amount. To date, Woods has raised more than $250,000 for the families of St. Jude, hosting his annual holiday open house since 2017. A dedicated community member, Woods was the past vice president of Bolivar Medical Center and currently serves as treasurer and trustee board member of his church, president of St. Gabriel Mercy Center Board, a member of the Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce, a Life Member of the Delta State Alumni Association and a Delta State Foundation Board Member.

Carolyn Hardy smiles while seated on a red leather chair.

Carolyn Chism Hardy
Champion of Business and the Written Word

Memphis-native Hardy is the CEO of Chism Hardy Investments, LLC. She has been the first woman and African American in several positions including a plant manager at J.M. Smucker Company, vice president at Honeywell POMS and vice president of operations at Coors Brewing Company. Her storied career includes starting Hardy Bottling, the largest African American contract packer in the U.S., and Henderson Transloading Services, servicing the largest grain companies and commodity traders in the U.S. Hardy is also a published author of three books who shares her invaluable insights with her fellow members of the African American Engagement Council of ALSAC. A Memphian through and through, Hardy, by way of her family of companies, has invested more than $15 million in the Hickory Hill neighborhood since 2011 to revitalize this majority African American community and provide employment. In 2022, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee appointed her to the Regional Megasite Advisory Board for the Ford Blue Oval project. She has also served her community as current chair of Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and past chair of Methodist Le Bonheur Hospital Systems, Society of Entrepreneurs, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis - Memphis Branch board, New Memphis Institute, Greater Memphis Chamber and Memphis Chairman’s Circle and Soulsville/Stax Foundation.


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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. Its purpose is clear: Finding cures. Saving children.® It is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. When St. Jude opened in 1962, childhood cancer was considered largely incurable. Since then, St. Jude has helped push the overall survival rate from 20% to more than 80%, and it won't stop until no child dies from cancer. St. Jude shares the breakthroughs it makes to help doctors and researchers at local hospitals and cancer centers around the world improve the quality of treatment and care for even more children. Because of generous donors, families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food, so they can focus on helping their child live. Visit St. Jude Inspire to discover powerful St. Jude stories of hope, strength, love and kindness. Support the St. Jude mission by donating at, liking St. Jude on Facebook, following St. Jude on XInstagramLinkedIn and TikTok, and subscribing to its YouTube channel.

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