Danny and Marlo Thomas © AP
When actor and comedian Danny Thomas was a young entertainer enjoying only moderate success, he visited a Detroit church to pray that his career would reach the next level. He prayed to St. Jude Thaddeus, the patron saint of hopeless causes, and promised that he would build a shrine to St. Jude if the saint would help Danny find his way in life. As Danny’s career began to prosper, he remembered his promise to the saint and contemplated how he would keep his promise. He decided that he would open a pediatric cancer treatment center and research facility dedicated to St. Jude. In 1962, he opened St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee after obtaining the appropriate funds to finance its operations.
Marlo Thomas © AP
Since that time, St. Jude has grown into a world-renowned pediatric cancer care and research hospital. In 2005, St. Jude finished its $1 billion, five-year expansion, which more than doubled the size of its original campus. The expansion aided the hospital in its effort to find cures for catastrophic diseases because it expanded the hospital’s Department of Immunology and created the nation’s only facility where specialized treatments and vaccines can be produced on-site at the research center. Although Danny died in 1991, his daughter, Marlo Thomas, carries on his vision by overseeing St. Jude’s promotion and fundraising. St. Jude currently continues to establish itself as a world leader in pediatric cancer research and treatment while continually moving closer to Danny Thomas’s dream that “no child should die in the dawn of life.”