St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital founded by a Lebanese

Was walking past the Children’s Cancer Center of Lebanon on Clemenceau Street, and it made me think back to when I used to intern at the American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities (ALSAC) division of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Miami.  At the time, I didn’t know what ALSAC stood for..but when I think back, it now makes sense why our fridge was always fully stocked with Lebanese and Syrian sweets.

Children's Cancer Center Clemenceau Lebanon

The Children's Cancer Center off of Rue Clemenceau

Children's Cancer Center Clemenceau Lebanon

Children's Cancer Center off of Rue Clemenceau

Children's Cancer Center Clemenceau Lebanon

Children's Cancer Center off of Rue Clemenceau

Children's Cancer Center Clemenceau Lebanon

Children's Cancer Center off of Rue Clemenceau

I mentioned to my friends that St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital..(the one in Tennessee)..was founded by a Lebanese man by the name of Danny Thomas.  None of them seemed to be aware of that fact..so I thought I would share that tidbit of information with all of you, just in case you weren’t aware either.  It’s definitely something to be proud of!

For those of you unfamiliar with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital,

Founded in 1962, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, is a leading pediatric treatment and research facility focused on children’s catastrophic diseases.  Located in Memphis, Tennessee, the mission of St. Jude is to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment.  At St. Jude, no child is denied treatment based on race, religion, or a family’s ability (or inability) to pay.

St. Jude

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

photo credit

St. Jude was founded by Danny Thomas, a nightclub comedian and television and film actor, on the premise that “no child should die in the dawn of life.”  Thomas was born Amos Alphonsus Muzyad Yakhoob in Deerfield, Michigan, son of Charles Yakhoob and his wife Margaret Christen.  His parents were Maronite Catholic immigrants from Lebanon.  Thomas first performed under his Anglicized birth name, “Amos Jacobs”, before choosing the stage name, “Danny Thomas”, which were the names of two of his brothers.

Danny Thomas

Amos Alphonsus Muzyad Yakhoob aka Danny Thomas

photo credit

Thomas named the hospital for Saint Jude Thaddeus, the Catholic patron saint of hospitals, desperate cases, and lost causes.  Thomas was a struggling young entertainer when he knelt in a Detroit church before a statue of St. Jude Thaddeus and asked the saint to “show me my way in life and I will build you a shrine.

Thomas believed his prayers had been answered, and he soon moved his family to Chicago to pursue career offers.  In 1957, Thomas founded the American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities (ALSAC), which helped him realize his dream.  ALSAC is also the fundraising arm of St. Jude.  Since St. Jude opened its doors in 1962, ALSAC has been responsible for raising the necessary funds to keep the hospital open. [credit]

Danny Thomas and Marlo Thomas St. Jude

Founder Danny Thomas and his daughter Marlo Thomas at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

photo credit

So, there you go!  If you didn’t know..now you know!

Thanks to ‘Danny Thomas,’ discoveries at St. Jude have completely changed how doctors treat children with cancer and other catastrophic illnesses.  With research and patient care under one roof, St. Jude is where some of today’s most gifted researchers are able to do science more quickly.  Since St. Jude was established, the survival rate for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common type of childhood cancer, has increased from 4% in 1962 to 94% today.

St. Jude has treated children from all across the United States and from more than 70 countries. Doctors all over the world consult with St. Jude on their toughest cases.  St. Jude has an International Outreach Program to improve the survival rates of children with catastrophic illnesses worldwide through the transfer of knowledge, technology, and organizational skills. [credit]

The kids of St. Jude

The kids of St. Jude reminding us to give thanks

photo credit

To visit The St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s website, click here.

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9 Comments

Filed under life in Lebanon

9 responses to “St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital founded by a Lebanese

  1. That’s actually interesting. And so both hospitals are connected I’m assuming?
    It’s actually surprising how many Lebanese/Syrians linger in hollywood and how much influence (though hidden) they have internationally.
    Yesterday I found out Steve Jobs (Apple) is Syrian through his birth parents whom had him out of wedlock and couldn’t keep him.

  2. Yup! The Children’s Cancer Center of Lebanon is affiliated with St. Jude’s (look at the first picture) :D

    That’s really interesting about Steve Jobs..I remember hearing something about it..but thanks for confirming..

    And these are only two noteworthy accomplishments..I’m sure that there are many more out there that we aren’t even aware of!

  3. New information for me.
    It’s obvious wherever there is success, you see Lebanese fingerprint somewhere, really interesting.
    Thank you.

  4. What a wonderful story. No I didn’t know that, although I often pray to St. Jude. And how beautiful the center is with a mini replica of Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock or something similar. Thanks for that! :-)

  5. D

    Random trivia – Danny Thomas was in a fantastic episode of Happy Days where he played Howard Cunningham’s father! Plus, look at that brilliant nose…now if that isn’t a hit-you-over-the-head slap-you-silly hint at Lebanese heritage I don’t know what is!

  6. Riham

    This post made me smile. I worked at St Jude for two years and a half on the work study program. :)
    I did actually know all of this, but I am very happy that you shared it!

  7. Mom

    Danielle, this was a wonderful post. I learned a lot myself … the Lebanese connection was very interesting. Who would have thought when you interned at St. Jude several years ago that later on you would be posting about it on your Beirut-based blog! If you still have your old supervisor’s contact info. you should send them a link – they will be so pleased to see that you featured them. This was a heart-warming read.

  8. im actually part of the “Friends of St Jude” in Miami and i just wanted to join u in ur request to help this cause. It is truthfully a great organization that has helped countless of children and families that didnt have the means to get proper care. Please visit the links and help as u can. Peace

  9. Pamela Hudson

    I was fortunate to find this out from my grandmother an African American cleaning woman who would roll her pennies and I would help to send them to st Jude’s hospital to help the babies she told me. I was born in 1961 so the hospital and I grew up together. I applaud Danny Thomas for never being to hollywoodized to forget his culture and sincerest accolades to his daughter Marlo Thomas for her untiring dedication in keeping her father’s dream alive. May God Bless all that each of you do drs ,admin,fundraising and in the words of my grandmother no amount is too small it all and up.
    Thank you all

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