These cancer survivors came together to fundraise for those still fighting.
For childhood cancer survivors, the battle isn’t over just because they’ve grown up and the cancer’s gone. Life after cancer can involve years of follow-up care. Side effects and the chance of recurrence are possibilities even after a patient receives a designation that she is “cancer free.”
“It’s always good to be healthy,” explained Tayde, 36 years old, a three-time leukemia survivor and former patient of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. “Any time something is not right, it kind of scares you because of your past. It motivates you to keep exercising and be in good health.”
Beloved late founder of St. Jude, Danny Thomas, dreamed that no child should die in the dawn of life. A fundraising team of survivors, aptly named Danny’s Dream Team, was formed in 2010 by bone cancer survivor and St. Jude patient, Gabby, 27 years old. Each year since then, a small group of St. Jude survivors raises funds and participates in events during the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend as St. Jude Heroes.
While achieving their primary objective to give back to St. Jude and raise awareness of its lifesaving mission, Danny’s Dream Team brings members fundraising accountability, increased fitness and camaraderie. “I want to help the kids of St. Jude like somebody helped me when I was a patient,” said Tayde.
“The Dream Team is a simple way to take care of that gift St. Jude gave us, and to give back to the hospital,” said Joel, 35 years old, also a bone cancer survivor. Joel has expanded his reach as a St. Jude Hero to other events outside of the Memphis area, including the South Beach Triathlon and a Warrior Dash event.
Danny’s Dream Team raised $11,800 for St. Jude during 2015, which reflects fundraising successes of previous years. “The funds we raise through the Heroes program will help fund the research that one day will lead to a cure,” said Gabby. “As former patients, to be able to contribute in this way gives us purpose and hope.”
Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20 percent to 80 percent since it opened 50 years ago. We won’t stop until no child dies from cancer.
And the members of Danny’s Dream Team are living proof of increased survival rates. “St. Jude is everything to me,” concluded Joel. “It gave me life, which has led to amazing friendships and experiences over the last 28 years since I began treatment.”
Tayde agreed wholeheartedly with his sentiment. “St. Jude is like a little piece of heaven on earth, where miracles happen every day,” she said.