Danny Thomas: Founder of St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital

 

The St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital was founded in 1962 by actor/philanthropist Danny Thomas. He promised St. Jude Thaddeus that he would build a shrine to St. Jude, if he would help him support his family financially.

He was able to amass a fortune and kept his promise and the shrine he built for St. Jude was St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which Thomas founded in 1962.

Roman Catholic Cardinal Samuel Stritch of Tennessee suggested, that Thomas build the hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. 52 years later the hospital has played a part in saving the lives of many children, who may have died without the medical care provided at St. Jude.

The Chili’s restaurant chain donated $50 million toward the construction of the Chili’s Care Center in 2007, which added 24 labs and 16 beds to the campus.

Sterling Jewelers opened a lounge area named Kay Kafe. It has become a place where families and staff can relax, when the children were not undergoing treatments.

Marlo Thomas, the daughter of Thomas is the National Outreach Director for St. Jude. His son Tony is also very involved in the administration of St. Jude.

The survival rate of  acute lymphoblastic leukemia has improved from 4 percent in 1962 to 94 percent today.

Families of the patients only pay what is covered by insurance and no family without insurance is turned down for treatment. Patients are also provided with a place to stay, while the children undergo treatments, to lessen the financial burden for families.

Many corporations like CVS/pharmacy, Dollar General and Kay Jewelers assist in finances for the hospital, in addition to too many others to name them all.

Wikipedia tells about a million dollar winner of the McDonald’s Monopoly game donating their winning card to St Jude:

McDonald’s Monopoly

In 1995, St. Jude received an anonymous letter postmarked in Dallas, Texas, containing a $1 million winning McDonald’s Monopoly game piece. McDonald’s officials came to the hospital, accompanied by a representative from the accounting firm Arthur Andersen, who examined the card under a jeweler’s eyepiece, handled it with plastic gloves, and verified it as a winner.[36] Although game rules prohibited the transfer of prizes, McDonald’s waived the rule and has made the annual $50,000 annuity payments, even after learning that the piece was sent by an individual involved in an embezzlement scheme intended to defraud McDonald’s.[37]

 

Danny Thomas
1912-1991
Founder of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

 

Danny Thomas along with Jerry Lewis are the best known celebrities, who have shared their fortune and time, to help less than fortunate children, who are battling health problems at a time, when they should be out playing, with the other kids in their neighborhood.

Thomas was born as,Amos Muzyad Yakhoob Kairouz  in Deerfield, Michigan on January 6, 1912. He would later change his name to Amos Jacobs, then later to Danny Thomas.

He would make his radio debut on March 5, 1944 on the Radio Hall of Fame program. He could be heard in 61 episodes of radio programs from 1944 to 1983.

 

Marlo Thomas

His daughter, Marlo Thomas went on to have her own acting career and was best known for her series That Girl (1966-1971). Actress Loretta Young was the godmother of Marlo, who also became very involved with the work of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and can be seen on commercials for St. Jude today.

Thomas was a standup comedian and also acted in movies and television. His first movie appearance was in The Unfinished Dance which was released in 1947, when Thomas was 35 years old. He became a major star, his show Make Room For Daddy debuted in 1953 and would be on network television till 1964.

He would make his last appearance as an actor in the Empty Nest in 1991, which was the same year as his death.

Thomas was a producer or executive producer in many well-known television series, which included Andy Griffith, Real McCoys, Joey Bishop Show, Dick Van Dyke, Rango, Guns of Will Sonnett and Mod Squad.

He was a founding minority owner in the Miami Dolphins professional football team.

His only marriage was to Rose Marie Mantell in 1936 and they remained married till his death 55 years later in 1991.

Mary Tyler Moore was chosen by Thomas to co-star in Dick Van Dyke show.

This quote by Thomas personifies the way he lived his life “Success has nothing to do with what you gain in life or accomplish for yourself. It’s what you do for others.”

Danny Thomas died of heart failure on February 6, 1991 in Los Angeles, California. He and his wife both were buried on the grounds of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Most of us will remember Danny Thomas portraying Danny Williams on the Danny Thomas Show, but his most lasting contribution was the founding, of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. There are a lot of children laughing and playing today in their homes, because Danny Thomas cared enough to build a hospital, that treated their cancer and best of all never turned anyone down, because they didn’t have money to pay, after the insurance had paid their portion or had no insurance at all.

If only more of us could leave a legacy like Danny Thomas, who may have died 23 years ago, but his promise to build a shrine, which turned out to be the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has brought hope to families, who had no hope by providing a hospital for their children, where they can be treated for cancer.

Thank you Danny for caring about the children with cancer.

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