St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital had to be one of the biggest gifts a celebrity has ever given back to the world. It’s found, Danny Thomas, had a big heart and loved kids.
Danny Thomas started St. Jude because he vowed to open a shrine to St. Jude Thaddeus if her ever found success. That shrine was built in the form of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. He felt no child should die at the beginning of life. Today the hospital treats children in the United States for free.
Scroll down to read more about Danny Thomas’ motivation for the children’s hospital, its historical successes, and what it has evolved into.
Danny Thomas’ Dream
Before Danny Thomas became a successful star of the 1950s he was just a struggling artist trying to support his family. Jobs came few and far between and his desired success was looking out of reach.
He was working as a nightclub entertainer and had only managed to land some minor roles on radio.
Thomas was the son of Lebanese migrants to the United States who had a total of ten children. Danny was actually born Amos Muzyad Yaqoob Kairouz, but changed his name to Amos Jacobs and then Danny Tomas.
His parents were Maronite Christians which is a sect within the Catholic religion and Thomas attended the St. Francis de Sales Church. This was while growing up in Toledo, Ohio with his whole family.
Danny Thomas’ daughter Marlo wrote an article for the Huffington Post in 2017 about her dad and his fateful meeting with St. Jude Thaddeus. It was when he went to church to pray after her birth, his first child, that there was a sermon about St. Jude, the Patron Saint of Hopeless Causes.
Thomas had only $10 and he needed $50 to pay to get his newborn daughter and wife out of the hospital.
In the article, Marlo recalled that he prayed saying “Please, please, give me a sign to help me find my way in life – just a sign that I’m going in the right direction, and someday I’ll build a shrine in your name. Then he took seven of the 10 dollars in his pocket and put it in the collection basket, and said to St. Jude, I need 10 times that amount to get my family out of the hospital.”
She goes on to say that he got a call back shortly after that prayer for a radio commercial that payed $75. It was the amount he needed for his family.
It was due to his impoverished childhood and the struggle to cover healthcare for his own family that Thomas decided his shrine to St. Jude would have to be in the form of a Children’s Hospital. One that would treat any child at no cost.
Thomas Founds St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
For a while Thomas forgot his promise to the Patron Saint of Lost Causes, he did eventually remember his promise while he was living in Chicago. He would attend a 6 am mass at St. Clement Church and one day he saw a pamphlet about Saint Jude.
The sight of the pamphlet brought back the memory of his promise to the Saint and his faith. So it was that he worked with Dr. Lemuel Diggs to raise funds to build a Children’s Hospital.
By this point in time, Danny Tomas was quite famous and so he used that fame to travel around the United States in order to raise funds for the hospital.
It was in 1962 that he founded St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. The hospital has treated children from all over the United States.
St. Jude’s Milestones
The contributions that St. Jude’s has made to the realm of pediatric science and health care are astounding since its founding. And it was all due to this selfless man’s faith in Hopeless Causes.
Only three years after the hospital opened, the very first immunologic method for diagnosing tumors in children was developed there. They were the first hospital to take leukemia patients off of therapy based on research indicating remission is sustainable.
St. Jude’s Immunology Chair won the 1996 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. By 2006, the hospital was able to boast a 94% survival rate in acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
It has also been named the top hospital for pediatric cancer care in the United States. Today, it has a total of eight branches throughout the nation and saved thousands of children’s lives.
All thanks to one totally selfless man, Danny Thomas, who kept his promise to the Patron Saint of Hopeless Causes.