For over thirteen years, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has appeared on holiday time television spots, pairing patients with well-known celebrity faces. With 75% of the hospital’s funding coming from public contributions, the annual “Thanks and Giving” campaign, spearheaded by national outreach director, Marlo Thomas, remains an essential way of keeping the doors open. Thomas recently sat down with uInterview to talk more about St. Jude.


St. Jude has gained a level of acclaim and recognition for its state-of-the-art treatment of children suffering from often fatal illnesses. They are also, of course, known for their touching television spots, which for years featured stars like Robin Williams, Jennifer Aniston, and Michael Strahan. “Everybody calls it ‘America’s Hospital,” Thomas said. “Because the children come from all over the country and the people of American help us fund it.” Thomas also emphasized that families do no pay while at the hospital. “Nobody pays at St. Jude. They don’t pay for anything. Not treatment or travel or housing or food. So that means we have to raise our money from the public.”

Besides receiving full-service care, each child meets with both a doctor and a scientist, offering what Thomas suggests is a “21st century” way of doing medicine. “We’re working with what nobody knows, because we are a research center,” she said. “And every child also has their genome mapped, so we’re treating children specifically with whatever their gene is, whatever their gene history is.”

The “Thanks and Giving Program,” which Thomas established in 2004, keeps innovation going. To further their celebrity outreach, St. Jude has also recently brought on Jimmy Kimmel. “We had Robin Williams for all of our thirteen years, and now Jimmy Kimmel has taken his place, and he’s wonderful,” she said. “And Jimmy has all that great spirit and that great heart and the kids love him.” Thomas said to look out for the spots on television, the web, and even in the movie theater.

An actress herself, who played Ann Marie on 60’s sitcom That Girl, Thomas has philanthropy in her blood. Her father, actor Danny Thomas, founded St. Jude in 1962. Reflecting on her father’s legacy, Thomas expressed a hope that St. Jude will allow people to look beyond themselves and to help others in the process. “We don’t just live in our little house on our little block,” she said. “We need to, not just give back, but to think about people, to notice other people, to notice the suffering in the world…so I think it’s really about the idea of noticing other people.”

For Thomas, the need to step outside one’s own circle remains the cornerstone of the St. Jude’s “Thanks and Giving” Campaign. As she now-so-famously says, “Give thanks for the healthy kids in your life, and give to those who are not.”

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