St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital was founded by Danny Thomas on February 4, 1962 with a focus on pediatric cancer. Danny Thomas was born in Michigan in 1912 and was an American nightclub comedian and television and film actor. He was best known for starring in the television sitcom Make Room for Daddy, or The Danny Thomas Show. Before making it “big,” Danny Thomas prayed to the Patron St. Jude Thaddeus, the patron saint of hopeless causes, and asked the saint to “help him find his way in life.” The patron saint did and Thomas lived up to his promise to build a shrine to the saint.
With the help of local business leaders and the Arab American community which formed the ALSAC® (officially, the American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities), Thomas started raising money in the 1950’s for a unique research hospital devoted to curing catastrophic diseases in children. He envisioned it as more than just a treatment facility, rather a research center for the children of the world.
Over the years, St. Jude continued to focus on pediatric cancer and increased its research efforts. St. Jude has improved therapy and increased survival rates for children with cancer during the past three decades. Most noteworthy, St. Jude has an 80% cure rate for Acute lymphocytic leukemia. Growing from an annual budget of $1 million and 125 employees in 1962 to an annual budget of $100 million and 3,400 employees today, St. Jude Hospital’s remarkable work has necessitated its physical expansion.
In 2005, St. Jude completed a $1 billion, 5-year renovation which more than doubled the size of the hospital’s original campus. The expansion included the nation’s only pediatric research center on-site facility for production of highly specialized treatments and vaccines known as Children’s GMP, LLC, and an expanded Department of Immunology and more. St. Jude also created the International Outreach Program (IOP) which is helping to improve the survival rates of children afflicted by partnering with organizations in other countries to share knowledge, technology and organizational skills. Today, St. Jude is the largest childhood cancer research center in the world in terms of the amount of patients enrolled and successfully treated on research protocols. St. Jude also serves as a training ground for qualified physicians, nurses, and pre-doctoral research fellows by offering specialized training in pediatric disciplines, with an emphasis on the basic biomedical sciences, hematology-oncology, and childhood cancer nursing.
What differentiates St. Jude from other hospitals is their focus on the patient’s family. The belief at St. Jude is that a child’s family is essential in providing the best physical and psychosocial care for their children. Additionally, the child/patient will look to their family for strength and support. Accordingly, St. Jude offers resources and support to families of patients so that they can, in turn, provide the best care for their child.
St. Jude Hospital and research facility is located in Memphis, Tennessee as are the national headquarters. All of the hospital’s fund-raising efforts are carried out by ALSAC; St. Jude has been successful at raising hundreds of millions of dollars annually through benefits and solicitation drives. Today, ALSAC is the nation’s second largest health-care charity and is supported by the efforts of more than 1 million volunteers nationwide.
There are many ways to support St. Jude this holiday season in their quest to find cures to childhood cancers. A link to the donation page is below. Although there are others ways to donate through other organizations, it is recommended to go directly through the St. Jude fund-raising arm.
According to the St. Jude website, during the past five years, 81 cents of every dollar received has supported the research and treatment at St. Jude. Give the gift of hope to a young child and their family during Christmas this year and donate to St Jude today. Every little bit helps.