BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- Each month, “WBZ Cares” highlights a worthy non-profit organization and tells the story of what that organization does for the community. This month WBZ is profiling St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital which advances cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment.
Entertainer Danny Thomas founded the hospital decades ago, as a way to give back to society. Carlos Sepulveda, a former St. Jude patient who now works for the hospital, says the idea began modestly.
“He just had a baby, he didn’t have any money and he was out of work, so what he did was to pray to St. Jude Thaddeus which is the patron saint of hopeless causes. He prayed and he said, ‘if you show me a way in life, I will build you a shrine’,” Sepulveda said.
And as Thomas became more successful, he kept his word and wanted to make the hospital unique.
“When he had this crazy idea that he would build a hospital for catastrophic illnesses where no family would ever pay a bill, regardless of race, status, whatever that may be, country of origin, no family was ever gonna to pay,” Sepulveda stated.
And the promise to build a shrine to St. Jude became a reality.
“St. Jude opened in 1962, and it’s really dramatically changed the way that pediatric cancer is treated,” said Sepulveda.
Carlos says after being a patient he decided he wanted to be a part of St. Jude.
“For me, to be diagnosed with cancer as a young adult and come out debt free and just be able to go back to college and get on with my career and my life, that is something I think no matter how much I can advocate or support this hospital I don’t think I could ever replay them for what they did. I just fell in love with the organization in a completely new way, being here as an employee is just incredible for me,” Sepulveda said.
And now St. Jude is a major part of the battle against childhood cancer.
“When St. Jude opened, the survival rates for childhood cancer were about 20 percent, and today, they are over 80 and we are looking at 90, so that to me is absolutely incredible,” Sepulveda concluded.
WBZ NewsRadio1030's Doug Cope Reports