When S. Jude Children’s Research Hospital founder Danny Thomas opened St. Jude on Feb. 4, 1962, he created an organization as rare today as it was then: a research hospital where children with catastrophic diseases receive free cutting-edge medical care.
St. Jude is celebrating its 60th anniversary with a year-long slate of events commemorating the legacy of advances in the understanding and treatment of pediatric cancer and other deadly diseases. As one of the largest and most beloved health care charities in the country, St. Jude is a unique organization, blending clinical care with scientific research. At the same time, the organization’s leaders are laying the groundwork across scientific, clinical, and global operations that will prepare the institution for another 60 years.
“We remain committed to the vision of Danny Thomas,” said James R. Downing, M.D., President and CEO of St. Jude. “In answering the charge of finding cures and saving children, St. Jude has launched the largest strategic expansion in its history to further scientific knowledge, increase cure rates, and develop global networks to improve access to pediatric cancer care.”
Inspiring generations of supporters
“My father would be filled with gratitude – as am I – for the incredible kindness and generosity of every single St. Jude supporter,” said Marlo Thomas, National Outreach Director for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. For six decades, his legacy has been lovingly passed on from one generation to the next. The dedication of so many extraordinary people enables St. Jude to continue breaking barriers in treatment and cures for our precious families – that was my father’s dream and that is exactly what every child in America and around the world deserves.”
As a struggling young entertainer, Danny Thomas made a desperate plea to St. Jude Thaddeus, the patron saint of lost causes, vowing that if the saint helped him find his way in life, he would build a shrine in gratitude. When success arrived, Thomas was true to his word based on advice and input from a diverse set of experts he consulted, founding St. Jude as a beacon of hope to the sickest of children. Since then, his children and grandchildren in partnership with many other visionary leaders have inspired new generations of St. Jude supporters. Such support has allowed St. Jude to grow into one of the largest pediatric cancer research hospitals in the world.
Thanks to millions of donors cultivated by ALSAC, St. Jude continues to honor its commitment to research and world-class care grounded in a founding promise: that no family receives a bill from St. Jude for their child’s treatment, travel, housing, or food, so they can focus on helping their child live.