Last week our Impact Squad took our 3rd trip to Memphis, TN to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. It was also the weekend of the St. Jude Memphis Marathon. Kristi Jeffers and I ran the full marathon, some of our volunteers ran the 5K (Selah Vetter, Nick Jordan and Lauren Ladd). It was my first time running as a St. Jude Hero (a program St. Jude created to promote fundraising for the hospital - you are considered a "Hero" if you raise above a certain dollar amount for the hospital). As you know, St. Jude is such a special place to me and it was a blast experiencing my 3rd marathon at St. Jude. Families and patients lined the streets of the race and although it was a warm day, it was an incredible experience (I'll be back next year for sure!).
Then, the following Monday our Impact Squad toured St. Jude and visited with families in the Chili's Care Center. It was such a special day. Words can't even begin to describe what these families are going through, but I'm so encouraged at how St. Jude provides for their families and takes away so many variables of "worry and concern" as their child faces something that is seemingly insurmountable. Also, the discoveries they have made over the years blows my mind! When their doors opened in 1962, the survival rate for pediatric cancer was 20% and now it's over 80%! As an example, when they opened, the survival rate of Acute Lymphatic Leukemia was 4%. Now, over 50 years later, its 94% Isn't that amazing?
During our time with patients, we dressed up like princesses and superheroes, made a craft and hand delivered hats to each patient. One special part of our trip was getting to meet miss Kinlee. Kinlee was diagnosed with brain cancer a little over a month ago in GA. She had surgery and began her journey at St. Jude a couple of days before we arrived. Our friend Alice that lives in GA found out about her story and shared it with us. We were so excited to meet Kinlee and visit with her while we were there. Above is a picture of the Impact Squad with Kinlee. Click below to watch her story!
We had an AMAZING team of 8 volunteers on the trip and I couldn't have pulled it off without each one of them. We also had some new characters - Belle (me), Elsa (Casey Wolff), Snow White (Sara Meadows), Mr. Incredible (Nick Jordan), Jessie from Toy Story (Selah Vetter), Rapunzel (Lauren Ladd) and Cinderella (Kristi Jeffers). Shari Vetter also did an amazing job leading our craft!
St. Jude holds a special place in my heart and I look forward to our next visit. It really is hard to describe until you experience it in person! Thank you to every person who made hats, came along on the Impact Squad, prayed in anticipation of the trip and gave financially! The Lord used each of you to accomplish immeasurably more than I could ever ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). As I write this blog, we just shipped 2 more boxes of hats to a couple out of town facilities which puts our total hat + letter packet count for the year at 850! God is so faithful!
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Founder, 818 Ministries