Danny Thomas: A Legacy Of Helping Kids Through St. Jude
Earlier this year, I had a chance to make my second trip to Memphis as we got ready for the 2014 My Country 95.5 Cares For St. Jude Kids Radiothon – and it’s amazing how much is ‘new’ at the hospital. The advances that the doctors and researchers are making there to help kids beat cancer and increase survival rates are incredible – and the facility itself will blow you away. What makes the whole thing even more incredible are the humble beginnings of the hospital, which stem from entertainer Danny Thomas.
Those of us who remember Danny are getting a few more grey hairs every year – he was a legendary comedian, television, and film actor who came to America’s attention in the 50’s, probably best known through his 13-year run on Make Room For Daddy, which later came to be known as The Danny Thomas Show. Here’s a sample, for the uninitiated:
The story of how Danny Thomas came to found St. Jude is an amazing one. More than 70 years ago, he was a struggling entertainer in Detroit – with a new baby on the way. Danny visited a local church, and was so moved during the Mass, he put his very last $7 in the collection box. When he realized what he’d done, he prayed for a way to pay the hospital bills that were enroute – and the very next day, he was offered a small part that would pay 10 times the amount he’d given to the church. Danny had experienced the power of prayer.
Two years later, he had achieved some small acting success – but was struggling to take his career to the next level. Once more, he turned to the church – and prayed to St. Jude Thaddeus, the patron saint of lost causes. His prayer – “help me find my way in life, and I will build you a shrine.”
His career started to take off, and soon he moved to Chicago to pursue better offers. A few years later, at another turning point in his life – Danny visited the church once again and remembered his pledge to St. Jude, and repeated it – and in the years that followed, he became internationally known as an amazing entertainer, and with his new success, he began to make good on that promise – starting the early discussions in the 1950’s that would lead to the concrete form his vow might take.
Through fundraisers, his entertainment connections, his fellow Americans of Lebanese descent, and donations from everyday folks – St. Jude began to take shape in Memphis, Tennessee – and it’s amazing what it has become over the last several years. Talk about a lasting legacy – few could compare to Danny Thomas’s.
Take a virtual tour of the hospital, and learn more about the life-saving work going on at St. Jude. Then, pick up the phone and join us – become a Partner In Hope at 1-800-339-4673, or donate online.