Every year, ALSAC (the American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities), which is the fund-raising arm of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, hosts a gathering of radio professionals in Memphis called the Country Cares Radio Seminar. The purpose of this radio summit is twofold: show appreciation for the efforts of radio stations in raising money for St. Jude and educate station staff members on what St. Jude does and how to relate that to our audience during our annual radiothons. I had the honor of being one of the four Y108 staff members chosen to attend the St. Jude Country Cares Radio Seminar in January of 2008.
As the creative services director of the radio station, I was there to learn how to write promos and recorded announcements that would help you better understand what your support means to St. Jude, its patients, and their families. From the moment we arrived, I was taken aback by the all hospitality. We were shuttled from the airport to our hotel in downtown Memphis, where I fully expected to have to share a room with Wookie. But when we checked in at the hotel, to my surprise, I had my own room. ”What must this cost?” I wondered.
For two days you are immersed in the world of St. Jude: attending seminars to learn about the hospital and its research, touring the facilities, meeting patients, families, and hospital staffers. I began to feel unworthy that all this effort and expense was being wasted on someone like me. And that’s when it hit me…this must be what it’s like for the parents of a child diagnosed with cancer. They arrive at St. Jude in the midst of their darkest hour and their every need is met. Their travel expenses are covered. If they drive there, they get reimbursed for gas. If the family has to stay for an extended period, they have short-term and long-term housing. Whatever treatments their medical insurance won’t cover, St. Jude foots the bill, leaving parents’ with only one worry: the health and well-being of their child. They feel unworthy, but also grateful that someone is taking care of the details of everyday life that for them has come to a complete halt. I had experienced a tiny glimpse of the hospitality and compassion given to these families. St Jude can do that because of the generosity people like you and me who become partners in hope.
I will forever remember my time in Memphis that January…walking along Beale Street, visiting the hospital and research facility, singing along with a room full of other radio folks as Randy Owen performed “Angels Among Us”. But the one thing that I surely will never forget is how it felt to be welcomed and treated by the folks of ALSAC and St. Jude. That’s why my wife and I have been partners in hope ever since. Won’t you join us and become one too?