Dream Home

St. Jude raffles $475,000 Eads house for fundraiser


Mid-South residents have a chance to view a rising neighborhood in Eads – and possibly win a home – while helping children fight cancer.

John Christy joins Candy Johnson, from left, Betty Christy, Aggie Wagner and Beverly Osing of the Ladies of St. Jude, an organization that supports the hospital and the 2013 St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway.

(Photos: Bob Bayne)

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is using real estate as a vehicle to help fund the battle against childhood cancer and other deadly diseases through the 2013 St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway, a June 22 raffle for a $475,000 home in Eads.

Participants can view the 4,000-square-foot custom home, built in the Aston Park Renaissance Community by Southern Serenity Homes, during free open houses every weekend through June 16.

“It’s just something we wanted to do to help the children at St. Jude,” said Greg Bridgers, co-owner of Southern Serenity Homes, which donated time and materials to build the home.

“It’s very rewarding to us because we’ve met a lot of the families with varying and numerous types of diseases where doctors had told them they wouldn’t live, they wouldn’t be able to see, they wouldn’t be able to walk. Yet due to the miraculous work of St. Jude, they were alive, they were able to see and they were able to walk.”

By touring the four-bedroom, three-bathroom home visitors can enter a free open house giveaway for a $5,000 gift certificate from Ashley Furniture HomeStore.

But the real fundraising muscle, and the opportunity for participants to win the showcase home and a host of other prizes, including a year’s worth of gas from Circle K, comes through a $100 ticket purchased by June 2.

The money raised from ticket sales is plowed back into St. Jude for research and patient care.

John Christy and Candy Johnson, president of Ladies of St. Jude, at the St. Jude Dream Home in Eads. Raffle tickets are available through June 2.

The 22-year-old event had been a fundraising success for St. Jude, which covers the cost of transportation, food, treatment and lodging for patients and a parent.

“St. Jude pays for everything and a lot of people, including Memphians, don’t know that,” said Dr. Susan Aguillard, a pediatrician at Pediatrics East in Memphis and a member of the board of governors and directors of ALSAC/St. Jude.

“The money from this event goes straight to the hospital to pay for this endeavor.”

So far, more than 300 houses across the country have been awarded and the program has raised more than $240 million for St. Jude, which has a daily operating cost of $1.8 million.

“It’s exciting and it’s kind of frightening because with anything that keeps growing you always worry if you can sustain it and even grow it,” Aguillard said. “Every year we try to make it a little better.”

That’s a quantum leap compared to the program’s humble beginnings.

Aguillard’s father, Donald Mack, started the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway program in Shreveport, La., in 1991. Mack had been approached by a man with a prefabricated home who suggested Mack raffle it for charity.

“My father said, ‘Why not do something for St. Jude?’” Aguillard said. “That’s how it started. From there it’s grown to a national program.”

Southern Serenity Homes has built the last six Dream Homes, including this year’s, raising around $6.2 million for St. Jude.

“We feel like we’re a little drop in the bucket compared to what St. Jude does,” Bridgers said.

The St. Jude Dream Home house will be open for free tours through June 16; Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. Tickets may be reserved by calling 1-800-224-6681 or by visiting www.dreamhome.org. People may also reserve tickets at all Memphis-area locations of Regions Bank, Ashley Furniture HomeStore and at Stash.