ABOARD THE CARNIVAL BREEZE – 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 the Carnival Breeze 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.
“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. Proceeds go to the St. Jude fundraiser.
As a side note, I grew up watching the “Danny Thomas Show” on our very small screen TV 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.
A few months ago when I was visiting Memphis, I saw Danny Thomas’ daughter Marlo Thomas and her husband, talk show host Phil Donahue, on a special tour of the Civil Rights Museum. Now 75 years old, the star of the popular 1960s TV series “That Girl,” Marlo serves as National Outreach Director for St. Jude. She is still a beautiful lady.
Photos by Jackie Sheckler Finch