When my two daughters Kate and Kelly were very young, my wife Lorrie asked them to divide their allowance into three categories: saving, spending and giving. One of their favorite charities was, and still is, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
I was reminded of this recently when Lorrie and I met with Marlo Thomas, daughter of St.Jude founder Danny Thomas and Lorrie told her the story. Marlo, who currently serves as the national outreach director for St. Jude, was in the Bay Area giving an inspirational talk at a women’s conference where Lorrie was also a guest speaker. Although my family and I have been advocates of St. Jude long before the “Miracle on the Hudson” this was this first time I had the pleasure of meeting her. She is a wonderful woman — very smart, energetic and gracious, and thoughtfully carrying on the amazing mission of her late father that began more than 50 years ago.
In 2009, I visited St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis just months after the Hudson landing to tape a public service announcement for St. Jude that has been televised nationally ever since and has inspired others to get involved. I was able to meet the staff and see first-hand the pioneering research and unparalleled care provided to children with cancer and other deadly diseases.
It was a life-changing experience. Meeting those young patients facing life threatening illnesses with such courage and grace was overwhelming.
It took my breath away. To me, they are the true heroes. I am deeply grateful to have had the opportunity to spend time with them and their families.
In the last five decades, St. Jude researchers have helped push overall survival rates for childhood cancer from 20 to 80 percent. When St. Jude opened in 1962 the survival rate of the most common form of childhood cancer (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia) was only 4 percent. Today, thanks to research and treatment pioneered at St. Jude the survival rate has reached 94 percent.
I was delighted to learn that two of the children I visited with four years ago, Aubrey, now 12, and Darcy, now 9, are off treatment and back home with their families and doing well.
Besides the remarkable results of St. Jude’s cutting-edge research, I am most impressed by the fact that no family ever pays St. Jude for anything. It is because of public donations that St. Jude is able to provide vital and needed care for the children facing life-threatening diseases.
Your donation can save children’s lives, and there is nothing more heroic than that. There are many ways to join the mission of St. Jude. If you enjoy running or exercise like me, you can sign up as a “hero” and participate in any one of the numerous marathons hosted around the country by clicking here.