Last week we highlighted The Blues Foundation, which is Memphis-based and focused on the past, present and future of the music genre. This week let us spotlight the iconic Memphis institution that is a world leader in the fight against childhood cancer and other deadly diseases: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Founded by the late entertainer Danny Thomas, St. Jude is the first and only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. Children from all 50 states and from around the world have come to St. Jude for treatment, and thousands more around the world have benefited from their research. Because St. Jude speeds its research discoveries from their laboratories to patients and doctors everywhere, one child saved at St. Jude means thousands more saved worldwide. And no family ever pays St. Jude for anything!
St. Jude physicians and scientists have pioneered treatments that have helped push the overall survival rates for childhood cancers from less than 20 percent when the hospital opened in 1962 to 80 percent today. The survival rate for the most common form of childhood cancer, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, has risen from just 4 percent in 1962 to 94 percent today. In addition to childhood cancers, other illnesses like sickle cell disease, blood and bone disorders, genetic diseases, and pediatric HIV/AIDS are among those also treated at St. Jude.
St. Jude is a place where doctors send many of their sickest patients and toughest cases. It is a place where some of today’s most renowned researchers are working in Memphis and revolutionary discoveries are happening every day. Beyond the daily miracles, though, St. Jude is also a huge economic and public relations driver for our community.
A recent economic impact study conducted by the University of Memphis indicates their operations create more than $2 billion in economic activity for our community. This activity fueled 14,710 jobs for our economy and brought in more than 70,000 visitors to our city. St. Jude and ALSAC, their fundraising and awareness organization, jointly employ more than 4,400 people, who all contribute to the economy through their residence here.
Unlike many other fine adult and children’s hospitals around the country that generate their operating revenues from insurance or payment, St. Jude depends on public support. It costs $1.8 million a day to run St. Jude and approximately 75 percent of this money comes from public supporters. The average personal contribution is around $30, so it is extremely easy to play a part in saving the lives of precious children. There are also many well-known events coming up that support their efforts, like the FedEx St. Jude Classic, the St. Jude Presents John Rich and Friends Concert on June 4, and the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway on June 23. Learn more at www.stjude.org.
Jeremy Park, director of the Lipscomb Pitts Breakfast Club, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter (@lpbreakfastclub) and Facebook (facebook.com/lpbreakfastclub).