I had the greatest experience last night! My favorite thing in the world is St Jude Children’s Research Hospital and as usual I have wonderful stories about how that happened and I may share it with you. But more importantly I want to share the hope and happiness that hospital generates to all who are involved or near it. When I retired from the Navy in 2004 and moved to San Antonio, I drove up to the hospital on my way and as i sat there out front, the aura and energy that surrounded it was breathtaking. If a building can capture the love and warmth of those inside and associated with it, this one did!

So I was very fortunate to have been selected as a participant in a virtual tour of the hospital – see the pandemic helped me out once again. The tour was given by a woman who’s daughter had osteosarcoma (bone cancer) and her heart wrenching yet heartwarming story was, I think, even more important than the tour.

The hospital does NOT look like a hospital. When you walk in, you see love, fun, joy and happiness and those qualities radiate from the walls and the staff throughout the entire facility. The staff and patients comingle and eat together in the cafeteria (obviously things have changed with the pandemic but they still do the best they can to be one big happy family).

They have made such a difference in the cure rate for childhood cancer and not just in the US but throughout the world. They have a section where they hang the flags of the countries of staff and patients. And there are “translator” phones all throughout the hospital. They have thought of everything and will continue to do so,.

Since my brother’s birthday is Friday and his wife is a big lover of St Jude I am trying to find the best birthday gift that he ever got from me – the gift of helping so many others around the world. I’m thinking of a brick or a plaque. I am pretty sure that will make his wife happy since she is a supporter.

Here’s a story (or two) about my involvement with St Jude.

I had never heard of it and one morning was driving to work and heard the music station i was listening to start talking about a “radiothon” they were starting. I was clueless but intrigued. So when i got to work, i called and donated – I was entered in some “prize” thing too but didn’t pay much attention. All I knew was that I was hooked on this hospital and listened to the radiothon for the entire two days.

A month or so later I got a call one day from someone at St Jude (?) telling me I had won the prize. It was a sky box for an Alan Jackson concert. That’s a big wow. So i rounded up my few friends and we had a great time. Not a bad intro to the hospital.

After that the regional director and I became good friends and met frequently. I am proud to say I was instrumental in helping them develop the St Jude Marathon many many years ago. That was an endeavor I really enjoyed and meant something especially when you see how much it has evolved.

My favorite story though is one that still brings tears to my eyes. When I buy concert tickets I keep trying to get the best i can. So I usually end up with several sets of tickets. Well, Shania Twain was coming to town and I wanted the best i could get. I think i ended up with 5 tickets (in different sections of course). One was for me and one for my friend. That left 3 tickets. I called my friend the regional director and asked if she knew any patients who would like the tickets. Amazingly they had a family from Virginia Beach area (about 2 hours South of DC) and they were going to be in town that weekend. She called them and found out that the daughter (the actual patient) was a big Shania Twain fan.

So, there you go – that’s the end of the story right? NOT. The regional director tried to get the girl to meet Shania but it was the night before Thanksgiving and her people said Shania just wanted to get on the road to get home after the show. But my friend did not give up. And it turns out that the forces of the universe didn’t either. Turns out there was a woman on her staff that had just left her job “working for Shania” to come work at St Jude. So, she pulled some strings and got the family to meet with her after the show. Totally amazing

End of the story, right? NO

The seats they had were way in the back and after we had met we split up and said goodbye. Next thing you know, i see my friend moving down the aisle and motioning to me. She told me where to meet them after so I could be there when Suzanne met Shania. I asked why they all were moving. Turns out that since mom was in a wheelchair (another very long story) they were moving them all down to the area right in front of the stage. I don’t know if any of you have ever seen any of her concerts but Shania Twain really put on a show! And this little girl who had suffered so much was going to get a front row seat! How cool is that?

At the special meet and greet, Shania was so wonderful with Suzanne. It wasn’t rushed or artificial or anything. It made her day and elevated my respect for Shania Twain more than you can ever imagine.

Everything always works out for me (and those around me).

The tears fill my eyes just writing about this great memory.

Today’s gratitudes:
I am so grateful I had this experience last night touring St Jude

I am grateful I found St Jude oh so many years ago

I am grateful for the great strength that others have that give me inspiration.