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Why Country Should Care...

by Kody Mac

This past weekend, I attended the 25th annual Country Cares for St. Jude's Kids Radio Seminar in Memphis, Tennessee. I experienced 3 days of uplifting, heartwarming, and despairing stories of children and their families who have first hand knowledge of the love and compassion from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Upon arriving at the hospital, we are greeted by a statue of St. Jude. This is the same statue hundred and thousands of children walk by on their way to hope.

When a new patient arrives at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, a nurse or administrator is there in the lobby to welcome them by name. That's right, they already know their names! In most cases, they say "we know why you're here, and this is a place of hope. We're going to help you. And we're going to do it at no cost."

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital does not charge a single patient under their care. Children of all walks of life and from around the world are welcomed at no cost to help find a cure for pediatric cancers. Many patients are treated as an outpatient with the hospital itself only housing 78 beds.

The Hospital has treated children from all 50 states and around the globe. Those patients whose treatments are to take 3 months or longer are welcomed to stay at Target House free of charge. The House was made possible by Target Stores and their commitment to give back to the community. The Target House features amenities that any home or apartment would have, allowing the families who stay there to truly feel at home. Again, this is free of charge.

While touring the hospital, we learned of the tremendous research being conducted. When the hospital was founded in 1962, the survival rate for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common form of childhood cancer, was 4 percent. Today, the survival rate for this once deadly disease is 94 percent, thanks to research and treatment protocols developed at St. Jude. This research has been shared with hospitals around the country and around the world.

This was the dream of founder Danny Thomas. It was his mission to cure all forms of childhood cancer. Today, we are seeing a 94 percent survival rate for those children diagnosed with ALL. That could not have been done without St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Researchers at St. Jude are not only finding cures for cancer, but researching and developing treatments for AIDS and many genetic disorders as the first facility outside the National Institutes of Health to receive federal approval for research involving human gene therapy.

The hospital and its' research labs cost $1.8 million per day to operate. This cost is primarily covered by public donations. This is why country radio stations across the US take time out of our lives to host the St. Jude Radiothon. 

If there is one thing I learned this weekend, it's not that we are just donating money to a children's hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, but we are donating money to save lives of children right here in Michigan. ALL RESEARCH done at St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital is shared with doctors, hospitals, and researchers across the world. If you have a child that needs to be treated for any sort of pediatric cancer, odds are wherever you go for treatment, the treatment itself was developed at St. Jude.

February 20th and 21st will be the dates of our radiothon on Win 98.5. I ask you to tune in, hear the stories, and learn about the great things done at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.