In 2019, my amazing friend Oliva Castro invited me to donate to the annual walk that she participates in for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Oliva raises money and participates in several charitable organizations. Every year she helps coordinate, organize, and set up the St. Jude walk. I briefly checked out the website and decided to donate; I previously knew little about the organization. As the event drew closer, she asked if my daughter and I would be interested in walking for the cause as well. We did not have anything scheduled and it was going to be held on a beautiful fall day in Arizona, so we decided to walk.
My daughter and I showed up well rested: coffee and water in hand, 30 minutes prior to the scheduled start time. I reached the booth where Oliva was registering participants. I casually asked how she had been there that morning and she mentioned that they had been setting up the event since 5 am—on a Saturday, no less. That is dedication.
Why It Matters
Just before the starting gun was set to go off, several children no older than my daughter went on stage and began to tell their personal stories. All the stories were very moving, but one stood out to me the most. A young girl who was an active gymnast mentioned that it all started with a slight pain in her shoulder. She and her mom thought she strained it during her favorite extracurricular activity. Yet, resting and taking a break did not help. In fact, over the next few weeks and months, the pain in the shoulder became worse and eventually was unbearable. After numerous trips to their doctor, x-rays, and finally a CT scan, she was given the unfortunate news…she was diagnosed with Leukemia. Her arm would need to be amputated.
Seeing this young girl tell her story brought tears to my eyes. But then she began to speak about how St. Jude was there for her: how extraordinary the nurses and doctors were when treating her, how the people at St. Jude never let her give up hope, how her mom did not need to worry about the medical bills and finances of her surgery and hospital stays because of St. Jude.
I tried to hide the tears in my eyes from the hundreds of others who had come for the walk. Even as I type this, I am having a hard time keeping my emotions in check. I simply could not imagine something like this happening to my daughter. This little girl up on stage was someone’s daughter too.
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. No child is denied treatment based on race, religion, or a family’s ability to pay. They treat thousands of patients each year, allowing survivors to live longer and healthier lives.
How to Help
In 2020, my daughter and I were planning on volunteering for the setup of the year’s walk, even if it meant getting to the event around 5 am on a Saturday. Due to COVID-19, there was only a virtual walk in 2020, so we were not able to participate in a full-scale event. So, we decided to raise money. We reached out to family, friends, and co-workers. Together, my daughter and I raised over $2,000. I even had several clients that donated when I posted our group donation page on LinkedIn. I am most appreciative to everyone that was able to contribute. I hope there is a live 2021 event so we can help even more. Either way, we will be raising money and doing what we can to help fight for these children’s lives.
Let’s end childhood cancer together. This is a necessary and amazing cause that touches so many lives—they treat nearly 8,000 patients from all over the world each year. If you have the means, please help us to end childhood cancer by donating to St. Jude or participating in an event near you.
About St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats, and cures childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. It is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. Treatments developed at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20 percent to 80 percent since the hospital opened more than 50 years ago. St. Jude freely shares the breakthroughs it makes, and every child saved at St. Jude means doctors and scientists worldwide can use that knowledge to save thousands more children. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing, and food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live. To learn more, visit stjude.org or follow St. Jude on social media at @stjuderesearch.