When I went through recruitment my freshman year, I made my decision based on a variety of things ‒ leadership opportunities, compatibility, character, sisterhood, all the cringe-worthy cliches. It may seem sugar-coated, yet my ultimate decision became almost entirely reliant on philanthropy. With one of the biggest charity partnerships in the Greek community, Tri Delta caught my eye right off the bat.
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, in all its charitable sainthood, has a way of pulling on heartstrings, no matter who you are or how old you are. However, in becoming a sister of Delta Delta Delta, I had absolutely no idea how aggressively this partnership would impact my life.
About 175,000 kids are diagnosed with cancer each year. Just think about that. Each year, over 175,000 children fight for their lives ‒ lives that have barely even begun. Within the year, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital treats over 7,500 of those patients.
This hospital, unlike any other medical institution in the world, treats their patients for FREE. It costs two million dollars for St. Jude to operate for a single day. Two million dollars for scientists to actively find a cure. Two million dollars for families to hold their children’s hands during chemo, without having to worry about signing a check at the end of the day. Two million dollars to give every child an equal chance at life. St. Jude runs its research, housing, treatments, and day to day operations solely off of donations. How incredibly insane is that!
Each and every day, the workers at St. Jude not only treat and care for patients, but research ways to put an end to cancer as a whole. Because of the research, love, compassion, and care from each employee at St. Jude, 80% of children with pediatric cancer become survivors. In fact, the number one pediatric cancer, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), had a survival rate of 4% before St. Jude opened- now, in 2018, the survival rate for ALL is 94%.
“Someday, God willing, we are going to beat all the odds and make childhood cancer a thing of the past.”
– Danny Thomas, founder of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
My love for this hospital grows with every ounce of knowledge I gain, and every penny I raise during our philanthropy week. However, this growing adoration became a burning passion when I had the opportunity to experience it first hand. And boy, did I experience it.
A few weeks ago my sorority sisters and I made a trip to Memphis, Tennessee to visit St. Jude. In my whole life I have never felt so much love, sorrow, admiration, and determination in such a short period of time.
Throughout my tour, so many incredible things stood out to me. Instead of wheelchairs, the patients travel in red wagons. You know that pungent hospital scent that smells like a mixture of sterilization and fear? This hospital has no scent whatsoever. Instead of fluorescent light fixtures, the ceilings are covered in puffy white clouds. Every consultation desk is at kid’s eye level. There is not a single wall in the whole hospital that is not covered by a painting or mural. Because it reminds kids of medicine, not a single decoration includes the color pink. Every piece of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital makes these kids feel comfortable in their battle, and ensures that every battle is fought with unwavering hope.
Walking the expanse of the hospital my heart swelled in more ways than one. I saw moms with sunken smiles, kids with shiny heads, and doctors with heavy hearts. But not once did I see a single person with a loss of hope. St. Jude gives these families and these patients an unfaltering will to carry on. Imagine walking into a hospital full of sick children and being able to feel positivity radiating from every person who passes you by. Can you even imagine that?
Before my affiliation with St. Jude, I felt uncomfortable fundraising for things and asking people for donations. After seeing the indescribable impact of charity, I would go to the ends of the earth to ensure that this hospital stays up and running.
In 2017, my chapter raised over $158,371 for the sweet angels at St. Jude. My trip to the hospital allowed me to experience exactly where our fundraising goes and exactly how much every donation impacts these children’s lives. I love St. Jude with all my heart. I ache for the children who suffer so deeply. I admire every nurse, patient, scientist, and family member fighting this battle. I am DETERMINED to help find a cure.
Every day of the year my sisters and I celebrate the life of these survivors, and fight for the health of those still battling disease. Any child brought into this world should have a chance to make a difference. By the words of Danny Thomas himself, “Someday, God willing, we are going to beat the odds and make childhood cancer a thing of the past.”