By Ebonie Johnson Cooper, St. Jude Blogger
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is truly a magical place. When I visited in the spring of 2014, my mind and my heart were opened to the life-changing work of the men and women there. So when I left I committed to being a life-long supporter of their work. My commitment was renewed last year when I walked in the St. Jude Give Thanks Walk, interviewed the founders of Black Girls Run! for their unique fundraiser for the research hospital, and undoubtedly when I attended the St. Jude NPHC reception during Congressional Black Caucus Week. Well, just last week I attended the CBC reception again and I was reminded why I love St. Jude.
The face of childhood cancer holds no bias and no prejudice. But thanks to the spirit of St. Jude founder, Danny Thomas there is hope for those children who do experience a cancer diagnosis. Thomas believed that “No child should die in the dawn of life,” and to this day St. Jude operates under those words. About 11,630 children age 14 and younger are diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. each year. One in 300 boys and one in 333 girls will develop cancer before their 20th birthday. For African Americans in particular, approximately one in 375 African-Americans is born with sickle cell disease each year. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has one of the largest and most active Sickle Cell Disease Programs in the nation. St. Jude treats approximately 800 children per year with sickle cell disease. Bone marrow (or stem cell) transplantation is the only cure for sickle cell disease. The cure was first performed successfully in 1983 when St. Jude patient, Kimberlin George received a life-saving blood transfusion to cure her Acute Myeloid Leukemia. She became the first person to be cured of sick-cell anemia. St. Jude rarely performs this procedure because a perfect bone marrow match is so rare and the complications are risky. However, progress St. Jude makes in helping patients live with sickle cell, pain-free, is phenomenal! This work could not be done without the generous support of individual donors, corporations and community organizations like the Divine Nine of the National Pan-Hellenic Council.
To date, the NPHC organizations have collectively donated nearly $2 million to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. They have done so through various individual programs including, St. Jude Sunday of Hope, the faith-based program where churches are recruited to collect one love offering for St. Jude; St. Jude Give Thanks. Walk. that took place in nearly 70 communities across the country; Girls Night In, a peer-to-peer fundraising event where members host individual social gatherings; and St. Jude Game Day. Give Back., a peer-to-peer fundraising event where members host Super Bowl parties to benefit the hospital. Last month, members of the Divine Nine joined the St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer across 58 cities. Delta Sigma Theta served as a Gold Sponsor, and Iota Phi Theta, Sigma Gamma Rho, and Alpha Phi Alpha served as Bronze Sponsors.
At the CBC reception, St. Jude recognized and thanked the leadership of the Divine Nine. We heard patient stories and were no doubt blessed by the voice of Vivian Green. Just like last year, I left the reception renewed and enthused to advocate for the work of St. Jude. As a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. I could not be prouder to know my sorority is committed to the work of such a life-changing place.
Dare to make a difference! Stand with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and help make a difference in the lives of children living with a devastating diagnosis. “Because the majority of St. Jude funding comes from individual contributors, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has the freedom to focus on what matters most—saving kids regardless of their financial situation.” Learn more about how you can partner with St. Jude and help fulfill founder Danny Thomas’ dream of a day when no child dies in the dawn of life.