So today’s task was to blog about my trip to Memphis to tour St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. This was a huge undertaking since my head was spinning and I want to tell you everything but it would take too many pages for that so I decided to do a video and explain some of the things that we saw. A big part of the tour was hearing stories about some of the patients and the things that happen on a daily basis. Again impossible to get it all in writing but I will share some of my favorite ones.
First I wanted to share a little about how ended up on this tour. Two and a half years ago my triathlon team decided to compete in the corporate challenge for the Nautica South Beach Triathlon. The race is a large fundraiser for St. Jude and all money raised as part of the corporate challenge goes to the hospital.
I was every excited about raising money for St. Jude because of the kids and got started right away. I even started Pennies for a Cause campaign. Then we had a team meeting to learn more about the race. Maria Quesada, from ASLAC the fundraising corporation of St. Jude, got up to talk about the hospital. She gave us statistics and told us about why the hospital was started ect. Then she said that she was going to show us a video but not to worry it would not be sad. Well I cried like a baby. It was not sad at all but that video changed me. It moved me to become a St. Jude Hero and was determined to raise more money than anyone.
As I went through the process I learned that there were prizes for the top 3 fundraisers. First place was a trip to Puerto Rico, second place was a trip to the hospital for a tour and third place was an Ipad. I was like I can go to Puerto Rico anytime I want and I already have an Ipad. I want to be second. I think I ended up around number 8 in the end with a total amount raised of $5,510.00. That effort got me to the captain position of the team this year. As is turned out the captains for the top 3 teams were invited to a tour. Our team was third with over $32,000.00 raised.
Now let me explain that we are going up against corporations who match the employee fundraising. They also pay for their race entry. These corporations believe in St. Jude and through this race they get the employees involved. We are triathletes and we pay our own race entry and we do not have a matching program. So the fact that we were in third place was huge. I got to spend the entire day with the captains from the first and second place teams and they told me how impressed they were with our efforts. One of them said he was going to change his strategy for next year. By the end of the night we all agreed we would have one big fundraising gala and pull all of our resources to make it a great event.
So the tour was amazing. This place is so full of hope. Everything that they do is to make the kids feel like they are living a normal life. First of all the place does not even look or smell (they have a special filter system) like a hospital. Second evrything is sized for the kids. They even have a school. So cool. Watch my video so you can get a glimpse of this wonderful place.
During the tour we went by a hallway that had pictures of past patients holding their picture of when they were at the hospital. 7 of the people on that wall now work for St. Jude. To me that says a lot about this hospital.
We heard stories about some of the patients like this one girl who wanted to exercise so she took to walking around one of the wards. The nurses figured out how far one lap was and told her you know 10 laps is a mile so she started counting and after a while they told her you know you are just shy of a marathon so she decided she was going to complete it. When the day came they had everyone there and they made a banner for her to cross and made it a big celebration. So now there are 2 little boys that want to beat her record. So a new tradition has begun.
They told us about how the kids sometime loose their appetite because of treatment but then all of a sudden at 2am they want pancakes so they have a chef in the kitchen 24 hours a day to whip up the pancakes. One kid said he wanted his grandmother’s mac and cheese. He could tell the difference so the chef had no choice but to call the grandmother for the recipe. And she gave it to him.
They also talked about the energy levels drop as well so when the kids feel strong they are encouraged to play so on any given day you might run into a tricycle race through the halls. The hospital is totally set up for the kids to play when they feel up to it.
There are a million stories like these. It is all of these small details that amaze me. They really have thought about everything.
I am including a link to the quick facts page. This page will give you all the amazing information from when the hospital opened to how many patients they treat everyday. You may want to look through the webpage for other information. It is inspiring.
What I learned today is that it doesn’t matter how many times I have told my story about the tour I still get goose bumps when I talk about the hospital. I love St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital