Care2 is proud of the work we, and our members, do to help children and the organizations working to prevent their suffering. This year we’re again part of the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s Thanks and Giving® campaign. These folks do some amazing work and I know a lot of Care2 members will be interested in learning more about their efforts to treat and cure catastrophic childhood diseases. So, we sent a few questions their way.
This is what David L. McKee, Chief Operating Officer and Interim CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising organization of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital had to say:
C2: First, can you tell us a little history about St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital?
DLM: St. Jude was founded by Danny Thomas. Years ago, Danny, then a struggling entertainer, sat in a church pondering his life’s future. He had a baby on the way, and his career prospects were dire. But he was so moved during the mass, he walked to the collection box and dropped in all the money he had in his pocket – just $7. When he realized what he had done, Danny prayed for a way to pay the looming hospital bills. The next morning, he received a job offer that would pay $75. Danny had experienced the power of prayer.
A few years later, Danny reached another turning point in his career. Looking for direction, he once again turned to the church. Praying to St. Jude Thaddeus, the patron saint of hopeless causes, Danny said “Help me find my place in life, and I will build you a shrine.” Soon Danny was discovered by a national talent agent and his career flourished. But fame didn’t stop him from keeping his promise to St. Jude. Danny’s promise became a reality with the opening of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1962.
Today, St. Jude, Danny’s shrine to his patron saint, is one of the world’s premier pediatric cancer research centers. The hospital has become an international beacon of hope. St. Jude has treated children from all 50 states and from around the world. And the research and care pioneered by St. Jude is freely shared with doctors all over the world so that all children will have access to our groundbreaking research and lifesaving treatments.
C2: What’s St. Jude’s mission?
DLM: St. Jude is the first institution established for the sole purpose of conducting basic and clinical research and treatment into catastrophic childhood diseases, mainly cancer. Our mission is to find cures for children with cancer and other deadly diseases through research and treatment. St. Jude is the only pediatric cancer research center where families never pay for treatment not covered by insurance. No child is ever denied treatment because of the family’s inability to pay.
C2: What are your goals?
DLM: St. Jude aims to be the world leader in advancing the treatment and prevention of catastrophic diseases in children. Working together under one roof, our scientists and doctors are conducting the groundbreaking research and developing the care that will lead to the cures that will save the lives of children around the world.
C2: What are some of your greatest accomplishments?
DLM: St. Jude has revolutionized the way the world treats leukemia and other deadly diseases. St. Jude has developed protocols that have helped push overall survival rates for childhood cancers from less than 20 percent when the hospital opened in 1962 to more than 70 percent. In 1962, the survival rate for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common form of childhood cancer, was 4 percent. Today, the survival rate for this once deadly disease is 94 percent, thanks to research and treatment protocols developed at St. Jude.
St. Jude is the first and only pediatric cancer center to be designated as a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute.
C2: How long have you run the Thanks and Giving® Campaign?
DLM: Thanks and Giving is a national fundraising campaign that was launched in 2004 by Marlo, Terre and Tony Thomas, the children of St. Jude founder Danny Thomas.
C2: Who are some of your partners besides Care2?
DLM: Thanks and Giving has grown from 20 partners in 2004 to more than 55 in its fifth year. New partners this year include Crayola, RadioShack, New York & Company, Charlotte Russe, Hilton HHonors and PNY. Some of the specialty merchandise that will be sold to support St. Jude this year includes the Crayola 64-count crayon, marker and pencil boxes featuring the "Color of Courage"; "Oatmeal the Bear" by Pottery Barn Kids; and Target's Choxie chocolates gift selections and elephant plush and puppet.
C2: How would you assess the success of the campaign?
DLM: Each year the Thanks and Giving campaign spreads the St. Jude message of hope for finding cures and saving the lives of children with cancer and other life-threatening diseases. By urging consumers to “Give thanks for the healthy kids in your life, and give to those who are not,” Thanks and Giving has struck a chord with millions of Americans eager to help St. Jude patients and their families.
C2: What are some things people can do to help St. Jude?
DLM: You can help support St. Jude’s lifesaving work by giving today at www.stjude.org or by shopping with our Thanks and Giving partners. Look for our magnifying glass logo wherever you shop this holiday season. For more information, visit www.tg.stjude.org.
C2: You can also take action to support St. Jude here on Care2: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/384191699
Thank you David and to everyone involved in the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital!