When we stepped off the plane at Memphis International Airport, we were immediately greeted by a smiling and friendly escort. There was a very light drizzle, but a quick walk to our awaiting shuttle had us safe and dry once again and off to the legendary Peabody Hotel to take in the 2016 St. Jude Celebration of Hope.
Amazing. Awesome. Extraordinary.
St. Jude Celebration of Hope was all that and more. The two-day seminar connects with African American partners who take a weekend away from their personal lives to sharpen their tools to take their fundraising and awareness efforts to greater heights. Gospel and urban African American radio personalities, media representatives, and celebrities from key markets across the nation all gathered to support the lifesaving mission of St. Jude to find a cure for all forms of childhood cancer.
Attendees received tours of the main hospital, the long term housing facility named Target House, and the Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) facility. The goal this year, and every year is to bring awareness to the incredible research that St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is conducting, and to arm their partners with the much needed knowledge of best practices, new ideas and resources needed to support funding and awareness.
St. Jude Celebrity Ambassadors and recording artists, Avant, Sevyn Streeter, and Houston native Brian Courtney Wilson all performed during the closeout dinner. Also in attendance were gospel recording artist Janice Gaines, and her husband, EJ Gaines, VP of Marketing at Motown Records; actor/rapper, Tristan “Mack” Wilds; Neily Dickerson, talent producer for BET; and publicist Simons Smalls.
“The gospel music industry is about bringing comfort and bringing hope in a painful situation,” said Brian Courtney Wilson. “So it is a good fit for me to help get the word out about St. Jude. I was honored to be invited and answer the call. The key things that impressed me about St. Jude are that there is no waiting list and they make room for all.”
Why Families Chose St. Jude
St. Jude is the result of late entertainer Danny Thomas’ dream becoming a reality. Danny Thomas envisioned building a hospital where children would receive treatment for life-threatening childhood diseases regardless of a family’s race, religion, or financial status. That’s right – a patient and their family at St. Jude are provided with holistic care at zero expense to them. St. Jude goes out of its way to create “A Home Away from Home” environment. What an incredible blessing that is!
Among the many areas of cancer research conducted by St. Jude, they are on the cutting-edge in treating and developing a cure for the sickle cell disease. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, about 1 in 13 African American babies is born with sickle cell trait, and about 1 in every 365 black children is born with sickle cell disease. It is because of these alarming statistics that St. Jude has designated select “media ambassadors” to help get the word out to the African American community.
When it comes to finding a cure for the sickle cell disease, St. Jude has a legacy of innovation and commitment. Before opening its doors in 1962, the first research grant was awarded to St. Jude doctor Lemuel Diggs, M.D for the study of sickle cell disease. As a pediatric care hospital, St. Jude has one of the largest pediatric sickle cell disease programs in the country with more than 850 patients. Presently, about 40 percent of St. Jude patients are African American.
St. Jude is working to drive the overall survival rate for childhood cancer to 90 percent, and they won’t stop until no child dies from cancer.
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is truly the embodiment of what God would like to see all of us doing: giving ALL that can be given so that a young person might be made well in living life.
For additional information about St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, contact Kassidy Johnson, Public Relations Advisor, 901-578-2038; email: Kassidy.Johnson@stjude.org.