Danny Thomas was a struggling comic in Detroit with a young wife and family. As he worked to make a name for himself, he visited a local church and prayed for guidance. “Help me find my way in life,” he promised St. Jude Thaddeus, “and I will build you a shrine.” His career took a turn for the better and, in a few years, Thomas’ star was on the rise. As his popularity soared, he did not forget his promise to St. Jude, patron saint of lost causes.
EARLY DAYS OF ST. JUDE CHILDREN´S RESEARCH HOSPITAL
Blessed with three healthy children, he and his wife Rose Marie sought a way that his pledge could benefit children everywhere. With the help of a group of Memphis businessmen, he established the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The hospital pledged to treat children regardless of their financial situation, and made its mission to eliminate deadly childhood diseases like cancer.
CREATION OF ALSAC
Thomas, of Lebanese descent, organized the American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities (ALSAC) to help raise funds and awareness to build the hospital. Thomas reached out to his fellow Americans of Arabic-speaking descent to support the hospital as a way to give back to their adopted homeland, ALSAC is now the second largest health care charity in the United States. ALSAC’s sole mission is to raise the funds and awareness necessary to operate and maintain St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
DANNY THOMAS´S LEGACY
Thomas and his wife continued to support and raise funds for St. Jude throughout their lives. Through star-studded pledge drives and personal cross-country trips, they tirelessly continued to raise awareness of St. Jude. Their legacy continues through the work of their children Marlo, Terre, and Tony, who continue to honor the pledge of their father.
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THE MISSION OF ST. JUDE
St. Jude concentrates on research and treatment of childhood cancers and other deadly diseases, and patients are referred to St. Jude by their physicians. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing and food – because St. Jude believes that all a family should worry about is helping their child live. Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from just 20 percent when the hospital opened in 1962 to more than 80 percent today. And St. Jude is working to drive the overall survival rate to 90 percent in the next decade.
This article is one in a series sponsored by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and dedicated to the spirit of giving to those in need, at the holidays and year round. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeat s childhood cancer and other deadly diseases. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing and food – because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.