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!!
My first impressions of the hospital…
- It doesn’t smell like a hospital.
- Children ride in red wagons instead of wheelchairs
- The walls are painted throughout the entire hospital with beautiful, colorful murals! I especially LOVED the alphabet wall….J is for JOY!
- 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…..
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.
We learned more about the “Show Your Gold” campaign! September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Click HERE to create your social media profile picture!!
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!
- 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.
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!
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!
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!!!!
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.)
- 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!
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!
This is the Bella Flowy Tank: Size small!