Have you ever donated to charity and then had a sinking feeling that your money was not used in the manner that you gave it? We hear all the time about the lavish lifestyles of various charities CEO’s and pray that none of the money we gave goes to buy that new Bentley for the head of that organization.
So what a wonderful feeling it was for me to be invited to cover the St. Jude Celebration of Hope seminar. It was there that I saw for myself, a longtime St. Jude supporter that my $15, $25 and $30, checks I’ve written to them over the years are being spent in so many wonderful ways.
The Celebration of Hope seminar is an annual event that recognizes some of the top African-American supporters of St. Jude, including: Inspirational music artists, celebrities, churches, radio industry representatives and corporate partners.
The event started with a luncheon where Richard Shadyac Jr., CEO ALSAC/St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, the fundraising organization of St. Jude, was the speaker. One of the main points he drove home was that it cost $1.9 million dollars a day to run St. Jude. He stated that small donations from individual contributors, like me, make the difference in running the hospital everyday."Only 3.8 percent of the total budget of the National Cancer Institute was spent on research for cancer in children," said Shadyac. "St Jude plays a unique role in researching pediatric diseases and folks like you all play a key role in that fact," stated Shadyac. "Folks you all provide us with the opportunity to take care of our most precious commodity; our kids," he added.
Next we toured the hospital and I was amazed at the beauty of the facilities. Every detail at St. Jude is designed with the children in mind. The admission desks are lower so the young patients can look over them and the rooms are brightly decorated. There is a wall of alphabets where the children write out on each alphabet their thoughts about their journey with cancer. There are computers and televisions for the kids to play with at Katie Couric’s game room. The food that is prepared in the Kay Kafe sponsored by Kay Jewelers is all locally grown and most of it produced in the garden that is on the premises.
While touring the research lab we learned a great fact and that is that at St. Jude many of the drugs that the children use to fight cancer are developed right there. Many of these drugs are then shared with other hospitals to use on their patients. St Jude freely shares this information so that all children fighting cancer can benefit.
Another beautiful fact about St. Jude is no patient or their family ever receives a bill for anything. Their travel to and from the facility, their housing, their clothing, their food, their treatment is all paid for by the hospital. This became very clear to me when we toured Target House. Target House is a home away for home for the children and their families at St. Jude. Sponsored by Target stores, the house is beautifully furnished and offers so many wonderful amenities including an exercise room with weight and a beauty salon. There are also several rooms of the home that are decorated by various artists. The Jonas Brothers has provided a room; Sean White has a room and so does Amy Grant. The suites where the family resides have two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a very nice living area. As Aisha Rodgers, PR Director at St. Jude informed us, “We want to provide them with everything so that all they need to do is concentrate on getting well.”
We met some of the wonderful children there and they touched my heart. One such child was 5 year old Kayla who is battling neuroblastoma. We created stick Monkeys together and once I got her stick to stay on the felt that we were using to make monkeys then everything else fell into place. We finished the day with smiles and hugs for one another and I silently prayed for her on my way out that she will be completely healed.
The final dinner and reception to honor all those who donated their time, talents and money to St. Jude was the final event for the Celebration of Hope. The red carpet was rolled out and the stars shined. Roland Martin was the MC for the evening and Jason Nelson, Sherri Moffitt, and Marsha Ambrosius performed. After the dinner we talked to the performers and they all stated that their participation in the event was something they all wanted to do. “Your donation big or small is going to make an impact in the lives of so many kids” said Jason Nelson. “I’ve always been aware of this organization but I didn’t really understand it until I had my own crisis with my child." said Sherri Jones-Moffett. "My child didn’t have cancer but was born at 1.5 ounces. That made me want to use the platform that I have to make people aware of this research hospital and the wonderful work they are doing."
So if you are wondering what St. Jude is doing with your $25 dollar check trust me they are doing well with it and can always use more checks. As Marsha Ambrosius stated so eloquently ‘I need more to join me, I can’t do it by myself I need others to join this cause because it is greatly needed.”
For more information about St. Jude log on to www.stjude.org