During my fall break in October, I had the pleasure to accompany my fellow Tri Delta sisters to Memphis, Tennessee to tour our beloved philanthropy site, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. My 99 sisters and I endured a long 9-hour bus ride from Waco, Texas to Memphis, Tennessee, but don't fret. It was entertaining as we watched a total of 8 movies throughout the entire weekend. What a great privilege it was to have the opportunity to see our dedication to the philanthropy in action.
We, as Baylor Tri Delta, have held for two years in a row the highest fundraising chapter within the nation. In addition to that amazing accomplishment, within that reasoning for being the top fundraising chapter, we accumulated $270,000 (the highest amount EVER raised by a chapter) in donations from the 2017-2018 school year. We hold several events throughout the year to support an amazing charity such as St. Jude, and every single one of my sisters could not be prouder of what an impact the support receives.
The history of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital began as a prayer by Danny Thomas. He had prayed to St. Jude, the Patron Saint of Hopeless Causes, in a time of need. After his prayers had been answered, he vowed to devote his life to others in any way possible. He saw that calling in the form of a children's hospital for the terminally ill, a symbol of hope for those with terminal illnesses that needed proper care and support.
On February 4, 1962, the doors of the hospital opened for business. Within the grand beginning of St. Jude, the mission arose: "The mission of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. Consistent with the vision of our founder Danny Thomas, no child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family's ability to pay."
The hospital and its incredible team of researchers vow to cure these children, one step at a time. One of the many famous factors St. Jude possess is its declaration to never bill a family for medical costs. Thomas' dream was fulfilled by the treatment of any child no matter race, financial status, or citizenship. Anyone around the world could receive care and information on studies done at the hospital. This bold move would later assist St. Jude's into changing the world of medicine and changing the lives of children.
Tri Delta has been proudly supporting St. Jude Children's Hospital since 1999. Since then, the organization has raised over $45 million to aid the hospital with donations to make the lives of the struggling families easier. From those donations arose into a project a short-term living facility for patients and families. Tri Delta Place opened its doors in 2014 to house any family or child throughout their time in Memphis at the hospital.
The ABC Wall at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, TN.
As we all toured the halls listening to our tour guide and absorbing all that we were seeing, my heart was in awe. I could feel a weighting presence on my heart as I sympathized for the children living their youth in the walls of a hospital. But, I also felt an immense amount of pride and joy. If it weren't for all of the donations, nothing there could be possible. And I could see what an impact the hospital was making on these children's lives. I witnessed multiple children smiling and laughing as if they weren't inside a hospital but at a playground with friends. Time in the hospital and having cancer did not stop these children from finding joy within the little parts of life.
It was such a beautiful sight to seek such small kids have such an incredible amount of strength and endurance during the hardest time of their lives. Thanks to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, there is a hope in their eyes. A hope for a life after cancer. Each person within the walls of the hospital radiated positivity for the hope of these children and the medical research done. Every second, something remarkable occurs. Whether it be the answer to a cure, the news of remission, or even the news that St. Jude's doctors will do everything in their power to save that child's life. Because of the exceptional work done at St. Jude's, cancer has now become a small portion of these children's lives.
Cancer is only a chapter or a few of their life story, the rest may be unwritten but it is waiting to be filled with their new memories to come. A child has the opportunity to pursue a life of their dreams because of St. Jude's individual dedication to every single patient that walks through those doors.
I asked a fellow sister what the trip to Memphis meant to her and this is how she described it:
"Going to Memphis allowed me to develop a true understanding of why I love and support St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. It's one thing to be told about such an amazing place, but you develop a whole new appreciation when you see it with your own eyes and experience the joy found at St. Jude."
During my time at the hospital, it was phenomenal to see all of the hard work and dedication for fundraising in action instead of just hearing about it. The visual aspect of it was meant so much more than I could have imagined. St. Jude's ignited a hope in me by the time I left Memphis. A hope that there are selfless people ready to help others no matter what. I am honored to be a part of a community such as Tri Delta to encourage an improvement of fighting childhood cancer. St. Jude's incredible work does not just stop at the doors; it exceeds all boundaries and state lines to revolutionize science to save the lives of children. It was incredibly inspirational and a truly unforgettable experience that I am so blessed to have had.
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital has been committed to saving the lives of children for more than 50 years and continues to strive to exceed. Within those years, St. Jude has changed the survival rate of childhood cancer from 20% to 80%. St. Jude's steadfast devotion to its patients is a tangible presence. The hope pursued by the hospital is infectious and in the best way.