Sunday, June 17: Danny Thomas

Danny Thomas was an actor, father, and caregiver. An American icon as an actor and caregiver, Danny Thomas shows what a little inspiration and a lot of desire can accomplish.

A young aspiring actor, Danny Thomas just could not seem to break-in to the acting industry. No matter how hard he worked, or how many contacts he made, his career just could not get off the ground. While at Mass one Sunday Danny took the last $7 he had and promised St. Jude, patron saint of lost causes, that if he could find his way in life he would build a shrine in honor of the saint. Within a few years Danny career began to flourish, and Danny was true to his word.

Although he knew he would build a shrine, he was not sure what that shrine would look like. He got many influential friends and associates involved and it was soon not just a pledge, but now a real concept. For years, childhood deaths had been on the rise due to cancer. Only about 20% of children diagnosed with cancer survived to adulthood. Danny and his wife, Rose Marie, began crisscrossing the country to raise money for Danny’s idea.

70 years later, the St. Jude Children’s Hospital, is alive and well in, Memphis, Tennessee. What was once seen as a losing battle is now just short of a miracle. The work and research done at St. Jude’s has helped to raise the survival rate of childhood cancer from just under 20% to well over 70%. Danny died in 1991 and was followed by his loving wife, Rose Marie, in 2000, but their work goes on through their three children.

Danny is another example of what one person can do to assist their fellow man when their help is needed. Just think what might be accomplished if we all put half of Danny’s drive into helping care for those around us. Could we conquer AIDS, or Alzheimer’s, or could we make sure that no one goes hungry or homeless anymore? Those all sound like Superman-type aspirations, but wasn’t Danny Thomas’s pledge to St. Jude just as impossible? Danny promised the patron saint of lost causes a shrine, and he founded a worldwide shrine to St. Jude that provides lifegiving care to children around the world, WOW!

Terri DeAngelis