Sep
18

St. Jude Blog Tour

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I’ve been running marathons to fundraise for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for years now, so when the hospital invited me to join them for the St. Jude Blog Tour, I was thrilled by the opportunity!!

I joined 10 other bloggers for 3 days in Memphis, TN to learn all about the hospital, the families, the mission, and become a St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Ambassador!
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Day 1:

We arrived and were given a hospital tour with incredible access!  ***Please note: For privacy and respect, I did not take pictures of St. Jude kids and their families.
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St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has treated more than 45,000 children.  Our tour guide is patient #10,529 and now works at the hospital!
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My first impressions of the hospital…

  • It doesn’t smell like a hospital.
  • Children ride in red wagons instead of wheelchairs

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  • The walls are painted throughout the entire hospital with beautiful, colorful murals!  I especially LOVED the alphabet wall….J is for JOY!

alphabet wall
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  • The check-in desks are low, so the children feel more comfortable.
  • Amazingly, St. Jude is a happy place!  Families are going through the toughest trials in their lives, but the hospital has become a place for hope.

Back to the tour…..

We visited the teen art gallery where they are obviously far more talented than myself!  The hospital typically treats children from birth-18 years old.
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Every waiting room has a different theme from cityscapes to under the sea.
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They are the first hospital to offer pediatric proton therapy.  We visited the labs where they’re not only studying pediatric cancers, but also diseases like ALS.  We even had access to the “Fly Room.”  It’s just what is says.  They’re studying fruit flies and it’s an entire room full of live flies stored in tubes.

Danny Thomas: the founder of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (Not only did he establish an amazing children’s research hospital, but he founded St. Jude in Memphis during the 1960’s as an integrated hospital…incredible!) Also, you’re supposed to rub his nose for good luck.  :)

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There is a flag in the atrium to represent the country of every St. Jude staff member.  It truly is an International Hospital.
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St. Jude has a school so children won’t fall behind in their studies while they’re receiving treatment.  They even have a prom for the teenagers!
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Day 2:

We learned more about the “Show Your Gold” campaign!  September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.  Click HERE to create your social media profile picture!!
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St. Jude Fast Facts:

  • Families NEVER receive a bill from St. Jude.  St. Jude also pays for their TRAVEL, HOUSING, and FOOD…because “all a family should worry about is their child’s health.”
  • This year, 16,000 families will be told that their child has cancer.  1 in 5 will die.
  • Their goal for the next decade: 90% childhood cancer survival rate.
  • St. Jude invests more funding into pediatric cancer research than any other institution including the Federal Government.
  • St. Jude opened in 1962 when the childhood cancer survival rate was 20%.
  • St. Jude has treated children from all 50 states and from around the world.
  • It costs more than $2 million a day to operate St. Jude.
  • 75% of those funds are from individual donations.  The average donation is $34.

Next, we toured the Target House!
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It has an elephant theme which I LOVED! Elephants: live a long life, have a great memory, adopt other elephants into their family, and are good luck.
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  • The Target House has 98 fully furnished 2-bedroom apartments.
  • This housing is for families of children with the most aggressive forms on cancer that require 1-3 years on treatment.  (St. Jude also offers short-term housing for the other families.)
  • The apartments have a living room and kitchen.
  • The families are given weekly Kroger gift cards to buy their groceries.
  • They have laundry rooms, outdoor grilling areas, a playground, fitness, and meditation rooms.

The children’s art is everywhere…even Oprah contributed!
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Celebrities decorated the common spaces…
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That afternoon, we met with a St. Jude nutritionist and chef.  They have a garden on the campus and place a huge emphasis on healing your body with a proper diet.  When the kids are going through chemo and radiation, they often lose their appetites.  The chefs will create custom meals for those kids to meet their food requests!

There are always fun events going on.  We lucked out and caught the Carnival: Dr. Seuss on the Loose party!!  The decorations were incredible, and there was a story time, party food, and photo booth!
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We also met with a Child Life Specialist.  They help children and their families to cope with the challenges of their illness and hospitalization .  They use play and arts and crafts to work with the kids to ease their anxiety and understand (in an age appropriate way) what they’re going through.  They host No Mo’ Chemo parties to celebrate and they also have this super cool Legacy Beads Project.  For every procedure and treatment milestone, the kids receive a special bead.  They’re strung together to represent their journey!
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We were given the opportunity to meet a mother and St. Jude kid that are in the middle of their treatment.  Obviously, we didn’t take any pictures.  It was incredibly moving and heartbreaking to hear their struggle, but even during the most difficult time in their lives they were full of HOPE…..incredible!!!!

Day 3:

We spent the last day brainstorming about what we, as bloggers, can do to help St. Jude.  I was the only run blogger and LOVED getting to know the rest of our group!!! (This pic was taken from the observaton deck of the Memphis Pyramid.)
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Of course, I managed to squeeze in some way-too-early runs!
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And we had some great meals around town!
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Takeaways:

  • It felt like every staff member served from their heart.  The St. Jude staff were such gracious hosts!!!
  • The campus and hospital facilities were beautiful!  They have made every effort to make it a joyful place for the children.
  • I will make extra efforts to support the St. Jude Corporate Sponsors.  CLICK HERE for the full list!
  • I feel an even greater passion for running and fundraising as a St. Jude Hero and I’m honored to be a St. Jude Ambassador!

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On that note….don’t forget that I’m donating 100% of the profits from my CHOOSE JOY shirts to St. Jude!!!!!  There are tanks, t-shirts, and long-sleeve options.  CLICK HERE to order yours! 
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This is the Bella Flowy Tank: Size small!

#choosejoy

Join the Conversation

  • KristenC

    loved reading about your visit to St. Jude’s … had to, just had to buy a t-shirt. i think it’s great what you’re doing.

    • http://www.jenchoosesjoy.com JenChoosesJoy

      THANK YOU SOOOOOO MUCH!!!!!!!!!

  • Tracy Elliott Evans

    What a beautiful experience! You ar so blessed and that post sold me on the tank! Thank you – order complete :)

    • http://www.jenchoosesjoy.com JenChoosesJoy

      WOW…THANK YOU SOOOOOOO MUCH!!!!

  • http://travisandmarilynkeys.blogspot.com mkeys724

    Wow! Thank you for sharing your experience, I learned so much. What a beautiful place! The St. Jude Marathon is now on my bucket list!

    • http://www.jenchoosesjoy.com JenChoosesJoy

      YES!!!! I run it every year and it’s a great event for an even better cause!!

  • https://bubblyrunner.wordpress.com bubblyrunner

    Wow. What an incredible place. I knew St. Jude’s was amazing but this post blew me away.

    • http://www.jenchoosesjoy.com JenChoosesJoy

      Thanks so much for reading about it!!

  • Jen@milesandblessings.com

    LOVE this!

    • http://www.jenchoosesjoy.com JenChoosesJoy

      Thank you!!!

  • http://www.getoffyourbuttandrun.blogspot.com Meghan Matejka

    I love St. Jude. We donate money monthly to them. A radio station in Chicago has a yearly St. Jude radiothon where they air stories from all the incredible kids and families that are treated at St. Jude’s. It’s the only day I cry to and from work.

    • http://www.jenchoosesjoy.com JenChoosesJoy

      I LOVE that you do that!!!!!

  • http://mommiesrun.com/ Cecilia @ MommiesRun

    I’m so sad you were in my city and I didn’t get to hang out with you! That looks like such an amazing experience. I worked at St. Jude for 2 years and it is an inspiring place.

    • http://www.jenchoosesjoy.com JenChoosesJoy

      They definitely kept us busy for the three days!!

  • http://cupcakesandmiles.wordpress.com Amanda B @ Cupcakes and Miles

    Wow! I had no idea just how incredible an organization St Jude’s is. This is awesome and thank you for sharing it with us.

    • http://www.jenchoosesjoy.com JenChoosesJoy

      Thanks for reading about it!!!!

  • Beth Rivers

    The hospital is SO amazing!! I remember touring it while in nursing school, I still get goose bumps!! Love what you’re doing for them and how you’re using your running and blogging to bring awareness!! Keep up the great job!

    • http://www.jenchoosesjoy.com JenChoosesJoy

      I love that you got to tour it while you were in school…so cool!!!!!

  • http://www.RUNNINGaroundmykitchen.com/ Beth @ RAMK

    What an amazing experience! I loved reading about this. I’ve run that marathon twice and am so touched by how much the hospital does for children and their families. Thank you for sharing!

    • http://www.jenchoosesjoy.com JenChoosesJoy

      Thank you!!!! I’ll be back again this December to run it again!

  • http://www.thesimplepeach.com/ Alaina @ The Simple Peach

    What an incredible experience! Being a Tennessean I’ve always known about the great things they are doing for families, but it’s wonderful to know all these details. The red wagons are completely adorable! I would have been a sobbing mess. How moving!

    • http://www.jenchoosesjoy.com JenChoosesJoy

      It really was!!!!

  • http://www.momontherunsanity.com Paria@momontherunsanity.com

    What a great experience….and so wonderful that you have been supporting them for so long….looking forward to getting my choose tank in the mail soon:)

    • http://www.jenchoosesjoy.com JenChoosesJoy

      Thank you!!!!

  • http://ultrafootpath.blogspot.com/ Melissa

    Incredible. Thank you.

  • http://justjennandherfriend.blogspot.com/ Jenn

    That is so awesome!! I’m sure it was quite the experience

    • http://www.jenchoosesjoy.com JenChoosesJoy

      It definitely was!!!

  • http://www.sarahruns26.com Sarah @ SarahRuns26

    I already bought my t-shirt but this makes me even more glad that I did. I always try to donate to those running for St. Jude because they do such amazing work! Thanks for sharing!!

    • http://www.jenchoosesjoy.com JenChoosesJoy

      I hope you know how much I appreciate it!!!!!!

  • stephanie g

    Loved reading about your trip to St. Jude- such inspirational things they are doing there. Truly one of the few charities that I trust and support 100%. Ordered my shirt… had been debating over which style I wanted but you sold me on the Bella flowy in white!

  • http://laurainlou.wordpress.com Laura Olinger

    I knew St. Jude was a wonderful place, but I still learned so much reading this post. It’s incredible! I’m extra glad I ordered a shirt now!

  • Tori Capasso-Brown

    How can I order a shirt..I missed out and would love to get one?
    Thx

    • http://www.jenchoosesjoy.com JenChoosesJoy

      It was just a three week sale, but I’ll do another in the future!!

  • Sonia Jimenez

    St Jude, use baking soda treatment for their patients? I do not know, however I confirmed that sodium bicarbonate is saving many lives, including my father. I trust in God that this therapy breaks all barriers that prevent you to reach all patients who suffer pain from this deadly fungus in their bodies. Let’s help make this possible.