Danny Thomas, a young aspiring actor was the founder of St. Jude Research hospital. He visited a church in Detroit and was so touched by the mass that he put his last $7 in the church collection box. Danny Thomas prayed for a miracle because he had no money and had a baby on the way. The next day he received a small acting gig that would pay 10 times the amount he gave to the church. Two years later, Danny achieved moderate success as an actor in Detroit.
Danny went back to the church and prayed to St. Jude Thaddeus, the patron saint of hopeless causes. He said that he would build a shrine for St. Jude if he brought him great success. His career took a turn for the better and he moved his family to Chicago to pursue career offers.
In the early 1950’s Danny Thomas was a well-established internationally known entertainer. He started talking about a real concrete idea of a Children’s research hospital when he remembered his promise to St. Jude to make the shrine. Possibly a center in Memphis Tennessee that was more of a research center for children with catastrophic diseases than just a treatment center.
Danny started raising money for the vision of St. Jude. By 1955, the local business leaders who had joined his cause began fundraising while Danny was doing his shows that also raised money for St. Jude. Often accompanied by his wife, Rose Marie, Danny crossed the United States by car, sharing his dream and raising funds at meetings and shows. Danny Thomas and his wife once visited 28 cities in 32 days. Although Danny Thomas and his friends raised the money to build the hospital, they now faced the daunting task of funding its annual operation.
Danny Thomas was of Lebanese descent, so he turned to his fellow American of Arabic- speaking heritage. Danny felt the support of St. Jude would be a noble way of honoring his immigrant forefathers who had come to America. Danny’s request was heard. In 1957, 100 representatives of the Arab- American community met in Chicago to form ALSAC (American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities) with a sole purpose of raising funds for the support of St. Jude Children’s Research hospital.
Since that time, with national headquarters in Memphis and regional offices throughout the United States, ALSAC has assumed full responsibility for all the hospital's fundraising efforts, raising hundreds of millions annually through benefits and solicitation drives among Americans of all ethnic, religious and racial backgrounds. Today, ALSAC is the nation's second largest health-care charity* and is supported by the efforts of more than 1 million volunteers nationwide.
St. Jude has a daily operating cost of $2 million. St. Jude has improved health care for children all over the world.