Named after the patron saint of ‘hopeless causes’ the miracles -and hope- St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital provide to our youth are endless. Here in Newton, St. Jude New England, shows that strength daily.
THERE is nothing more devastating than hearing the words, “Your child has cancer.”
For any parent who has ever received a life-altering diagnosis, finding a beacon of hope during such a dark time can seem nearly impossible until they find out about St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Thanks to generous donors, families never receive a bill from the Tennessee hospital for treatment, travel, housing or food. Why? Because they want parents to focus on helping their children to live.
St. Jude’s mission since opening in 1962 has always been clear: finding cures and saving children. Today, it is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
Founder Danny Thomas made a vow to St. Jude that when he found success, he would open a shrine dedicated to the patron saint of hopeless causes. Over the years, he enjoyed much success starring on “The Danny Thomas Show,” and producing shows like “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and “The Andy Griffith Show.”
While staying true to his pledge, “Help me find my way in life, and I will build you a shrine,” Thomas and his wife, Rose Marie, traveled the country in the 1950s to raise money to build the first fully integrated hospital in the South. They envisioned a place where families could go regardless of race, religion or financial status, to receive treatment for children suffering a life-altering disease.
In 1962, Thomas’ dream became a reality when St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital opened in Memphis, Tennessee. Since then, the hospital has treated children from all over the country and around the world and continues to honor Thomas’ legacy of finding cures and saving children because “no child should die in the dawn of life.”
Their current research includes gene therapy, bone marrow transplantation, chemotherapy, biochemistry of normal and cancerous cells, radiation treatment, blood diseases, resistance to therapy, viruses, hereditary diseases, neurological diseases, influenza, pediatric AIDS, and psychological effects of catastrophic illnesses.
Through their affiliate program, they feature a network of pediatric hematology-oncology clinics located in Baton Rouge, LA; Charlotte, NC; Huntsville, AL; Johnson City, TN; Peoria, IL; Shreveport, LA; Springfield, MO; and Tulsa, OK.
Today, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is supported by donations raised by its national funding awareness organization, ALSAC, created by founder Danny Thomas for the purpose of funding St. Jude. Treating more than 8,000 children each year, the hospital continues to lead the way the world understands, treats, and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
Newton, Massachusetts is home of the only fundraising location for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in New England.
We caught up recently with ALSAC/St. Jude New England Office to learn more about the strides they have made over the years in finding a cure for childhood cancer, and which event next year they are most looking forward to.
BMM: Tell us about what St. Jude does and the impacts you have made toward finding a cure for cancer.
ALSAC/St. Jude New England Office: St. Jude is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food – so they can focus on helping their child live. St, Jude shares its scientific discoveries with the world, so one child saved at St. Jude means more children saved worldwide.
Through striking improvements in the care of pediatric leukemias and numerous forms of solid tumors, St. Jude has brought about improved health care for children all over the world. St. Jude physicians and scientists have pioneered treatments that have helped push the overall survival rates for childhood cancers from 20 percent when the hospital opened in 1962 to 80 percent today.
Additionally, St. Jude Global works to improve the survival rates of children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases worldwide through the sharing of knowledge, technology and organizational skills.
BMM: How does the team keep Danny Thomas’ legacy alive?
ALSAC/St. Jude New England Office: Danny Thomas’ legacy is kept alive every day through the steadfast commitment to raising critical funds and awareness for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
BMM: How are you able to provide treatment for children and travel, housing and food for their families at no cost?
ALSAC/St. Jude New England Office: Generous donors help fulfill the foundational promise that no family ever receives a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food – so they can focus on helping their child live.
There are many ways to support St. Jude – from galas, walks, golf tournaments and runs to matching gifts etc. Every donor plays a critical part in making our lifesaving mission possible.
BMM: Can you talk about the process when parents first get in touch to setting their child up for treatment?
ALSAC/St. Jude New England Office: St. Jude provides the best possible care for its patients. It also makes discoveries that will lead to better treatment for sick children and young adults around the world.
It accomplishes both by treating patients using clinical trials, taking the standard of care one step beyond. Acceptance to St. Jude may be based on potential eligibility for an open clinical trial.
BMM: What are some of the biggest accomplishments St. Jude New England has achieved this year?
ALSAC/St. Jude New England Office: In 2023 St. Jude New England had a record-breaking year for its three signature galas, TomorrowNite Gala, Fitness for a Cure and Toast to St. Jude. St. Jude New England raised more than $54.3M in the 2023 fiscal year from generous contributions from corporate partners, individual donors, and others.
BMM: How many patients does St. Jude treat each year?
ALSAC/St. Jude New England Office: St. Jude treats more than 8,000 patients each year. The majority of patients are treated on an out-patient basis and are part of ongoing research programs.
BMM: Can you talk about some of the major benefits/events held in New England that have helped your mission?
ALSAC/St. Jude New England Office: We have four signature events in New England. The TomorrowNite Gala is one of Boston’s most exclusive events, unifying the city’s private and public sector leadership in their commitment to help St. Jude fight childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. The event has raised more than $11.5M since its inception.
The 31st annual TomorrowNite Gala will be held on Saturday, March 2, 2024 at the Mandarin Oriental in Boston, MA. Fitness for a Cure gathers guests in the Merrimack Valley community for a gala that features entertainment from the St. Jude Performance Team. The event has raised more than $7 million since its inception.
The 25th annual event will be held on Saturday, March 16 at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium in Lowell, MA.
Toast to St. Jude gathers young professionals in the Boston area to support the lifesaving mission of St. Jude. The event has raised more than $1M since its inception and will be celebrating its 10th anniversary on Friday, April 26 at the State Room in Boston, MA.
St. Jude Walk/Run Boston gathers families and supporters in the New England area for a fun 5K that includes an interactive St. Jude campus experience. The annual Walk/Run is held in September during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
BMM: Next year, Toast of St. Jude will be celebrating its 10th anniversary. What can a first-timer expect? How many attendees do you anticipate?
ALSAC/St. Jude New England Office: We are SO excited for the 10th annual Toast to St. Jude! Guests can expect live entertainment, a robust silent auction, great food and beverages, the opportunity to hear from a St. Jude patient and more!
We are thrilled to return to the stunning State Room this year where we expect to have around 600 guests.