St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., entertainer Danny Thomas’s main life legacy, has come a long, long way in the fundraising department the past 30 years.
The first St. Jude Dream Home was in 1991, I think. Since then, they’ve raised more than $200 million and there are Dream Homes in 30 cities across the country every year, including one in the Tulsa metro and one in the OKC metro area.
It’s very cool — although every year it does give me a painful flashback to my radio days.
Right out of high school, just out of my mind, I was working at KAZZ-FM/KKID-AM (AOR FM, C&W AM, long gone) in Sallisaw, Okla., 10 miles west of where I grew up near Muldrow. In ’83 or ’84, the stations agreed to play host to a radiothon for St. Jude: Canned stories about kids and families, which were skillfully produced — and me, not skillfully produced, reading from prepared cards and ad-libbing for hours and hours on end, over a long, depressing weekend.
I think it raised $600-something. !!! Even in ’83-’84, that was embarrassing, even for a poor part of the state, even at a little two-bit radio station, even for a redneck radio jock like me.
So, my hat’s off to St. Jude for getting the fundraising right!