As I get ready to welcome friends and family to my house to celebrate Thanksgiving, I can’t help but be thankful for a wondrous place called St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which I was fortunate enough to visit last week. I know it’s weird to describe a hospital as wondrous, but I’m sure that if you’d visit, you’d feel the same way.
You see, despite being a hospital for children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases, St. Jude is a place full of hope and inspiring stories, like that of Anthony, a boy who was told he had a brain tumor when he was only 5 years old. His Filipino parents had moved from California to Tennessee for work never imagining they would eventually find themselves in need of the services provided by the state’s — and on eo fthe world’s — most renowned medical institution. In fact, when Anthony’s dad drove by St. Jude after they moved to Memphis, he said, “You don’t want to be there because that’s where the sickest children are.”
Anthony was in kindergarten when his brain tumor was found and his parents’ world came crumbling down. Then, they were referred to St. Jude where they received not only the medical care Anthony so desperately needed, but also the strength to keep going. The first thing that struck Anthony’s mom, Marie Cecile, upon walking into St. Jude was how sincerely caring the staff was toward them. And when she was told they wouldn’t have to pay a penny for anything while they were there, she almost fell off her chair. “Healthcare utopia” is what she called it and it sounds about right.
That’s because one of St. Jude’s main mission is that no child be denied treatment based on race, religion or a family’s ability to pay. Just stop and think about that for a minute: No family ever pays St. Jude for anything, including care, housing, transportation, meals or any of the cutting-edge cancer research for which the hospital is world-renowned. And, believe it or not, this is possible almost entirely thanks to donations that people like you and I send in. Yes, 75 percent of St. Jude’s funding comes from the public, which just goes to show the power of the people!
Today, Anthony is a smart (he knows all the capitals of all the states and is well on his way to mastering those of the rest of the world) and happy boy who just turned 11 years old last Wednesday. He feels so indebted to the hospital that he wants to become a scientist and come back to work at the place that saved his life. Meanwhile, his mother says celebrating his birthdays is a true blessing and describes St. Jude as “a gift to all of us.”
A gift we should all be thankful for because nothing can be more devastating than being told your child has cancer. So, as you gather with your friends and family today to give thanks for all the blessing you’ve been given — including your children’s health — I hope you’ll keep Anthony and the rest of St. Jude’s children’s in your thoughts and consider helping this amazing hospital by making a donation. It’s super easy to do especially now that St. Jude’s Thanks and Giving campaign is in full swing. All you have to do is shop at any of the retailers that have partnered up with St. Jude this holiday season.
I have a lot more to tell you about my visit to St. Jude, but that will come later. For now, muchas gracias and Happy Thanksgiving!