Carnival Cruise Lines to raise $8 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Melissa Mixan participates in a St. Jude fundraiser about Carnival Cruise Lines.
Melissa Mixan participates in a St. Jude fundraiser about Carnival Cruise Lines.

On this beautiful day at sea, Melissa Mixan is getting some exercise by walking the sports deck of the Carnival Breeze. Melissa is also helping raise money for a very worthy cause – St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

As a school nurse, the woman from Jefferson City, Montana, says she knows how important the work of St. Jude is and she is pleased to support it.

“I didn’t know until I came on the ship that Carnival had this program,” Melissa says. “It’s such a  great cause that I’m happy to help it however I can.”

Since December 2009, Carnival Cruise lines has partnered with St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis to raise $3 million. Now that the cruise line has successfully raised it’s initial $3 million, the company has extended its commitment to raise an additional $5 million over the next four years. Carnival also has signed on to become St. Jude’s Official Celebration Partner.

“We are pleased to expand our relationship with St. Jude and become its Official Celebration Partner, while at the same time increasing our fund-raising goal to $5 million over the next four years,” says Gerry Cahill, Carnival president and CEO.

“We hope that our fun in-hospital celebrations will bring smiles to kids’ faces and the funds raised will support St. Jude’s life-saving research and education programs,” he adds.

As Official Celebration Partner, Carnival will help patients celebrate special moments at the hospital, including birthdays which will feature a new gift from Carnival specially created for St. Jude kids. A Carnival-sponsored “Day of Play” is also planned at the hospital this fall with music, food, dancing, giveaways and more.

A variety of new fund-raising activities, both on board and ashore, are planned as part of Carnival’s ongoing support to St. Jude in the fight against pediatric cancer. Activities include a special bingo game with a portion of each bingo card benefitting St. Jude, as well as a waterslide activity with a $1 donation for each person who zips down the line’s signature waterslides during a designated time on board.

A sweet treat donation will be made when guests purchase a designated bakery item from the line’s on-board shops or prior to their cruise on Carnival will donate a portion of the cost of each item sold to St. Jude.

Carnival’s travel agent partners also contribute to St. Jude, with agents donating $10 each when participating in the line’s ship familiarization tours and luncheons.

Carnival has revamped the St. Jude portal with its website ( which includes information on the expanded partnership and an updated chart reflecting progress toward the new $5 million fund-raising goal.

“St. Jude is a wonderful organization that provides no-cost care to children from around the world, including accommodations for the family members of sick kids,” says Carnival Breeze Cruise Director Butch Begovich. “St. Jude is the leading researcher on rare childhood diseases and cancers and has an amazing 80 percent success rate.”

One of the big events on Carnival vessels is the Groove for St. Jude, a dance party hosted by the voyage’s cruise director. Participants sign up for a $10 donation, with all money going directly to St. Jude. Participants get a “Groove for St. Jude” logo t-shirt  and a “Care to Play” wristband to wear at the event.

A popular Beary Buddy workshop also lets cruisers stuff their very own St. Jude Bear, specifically designed for the program.  The St. Jude-themed bears come complete with scrubs, surgical mask and lab coat. Proceeds go to the St. Jude fundraiser.

As a side note, I grew up watching the “Danny Thomas Show” on our very small screen television at home. He is the comedian who went on to found St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

As a starving actor, the story goes that Danny Thomas made a vow. If he found success, he would open a shrine dedicated to St. Jude Thaddeus, the patron saint of hopeless causes. The actor never forgot his promise. After becoming famous in the early 1950s, Danny and his wife built St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Opened in 1962, the hospital for needy children turns away no suffering child. It cares for children regardless of race, religion or ability to pay. Danny Thomas fervently believed that “no child should die in the dawn of life.”

Danny Thomas died of heart failure at age 79 on Feb. 6, 1991. He is interred on the grounds of St. Jude in Memphis. When his wife of 55 years, Rose Marie, died in July 2000, she was buried alongside him.

By Jackie Sheckler Finch

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