Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Children's Health

Font Size
A
A
A

Marlo Thomas: Championing Kids' Care

The award-winning actor tells WebMD why she and her family are so passionate about raising money for kids' medical care.
By
WebMD Magazine - Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

This Thanksgiving has special meaning for Emmy Award-winning actor, producer, and author Marlo Thomas. It’s the 50th anniversary of her family’s fundraising for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, located in Memphis, Tenn.

St. Jude began as the dream of Marlo’s father, the late, great funnyman Danny Thomas, in 1957 and has been going strong ever since. Since his death in 1991, Marlo, along with her sister, Terre, and brother, Tony, has been at the forefront of the center’s fundraising.

Recommended Related to Children

One Town Gets Children to Live a Healthy Lifestyle

By Sari HarrarWant your kids to eat healthy, exercise, and enjoy it? Here's how parents in Somerville, MA, turned the kid-obesity epidemic around. Five-year-old Ben Tull pulled a big, ripe apple out of his Bob the Builder backpack one afternoon three years ago — and launched a health revolution at home. "The school cafeteria had given kids — even kindergartners — whole fruit at lunch, and Ben was so excited he brought his home to share with his brother, his dad, and me. He called it 'The Family...

Read the One Town Gets Children to Live a Healthy Lifestyle article > >

Focusing on childhood cancers along with other diseases such as HIV/AIDS, sickle cell disease, and genetic disorders, St. Jude fills a critical need. For example, when the hospital opened in 1962, the survival rate for childhood cancer was 4% to 75%, depending on the type of cancer. Today it is 55% to 95%, thanks in large part to its research.

Because, however, Danny Thomas’ dream also included the promise that no child would be turned away due to a family’s inability to pay, fundraising has always been critical to St. Jude’s success. “The average hospital only needs to get 8% of their money from fundraising -- but because most of our patients do not pay, we have to get 72%, so fundraising is key to our survival,” says Thomas. To date, 85 cents of every dollar raised for St. Jude goes directly to research and the treatment of some 5,000 children annually, at a cost of about $600 million.

To reach and exceed their goals, this November, as in years past, the Thomases and an army of volunteers and celebrities -- including Jennifer Aniston, Robin Williams, Bernie Mac, Ray Romano, and Antonio Banderas -- kick off the annual “Thanks and Giving Campaign.”

“In the beginning we did it for my father,” says Thomas. “Now, it’s all about the kids -- and it’s woven into the fabric of our lives.”

 

Originally published in the November/December 2007 issue of WebMD the Magazine.

 

Reviewed on October 02, 2007

Today on WebMD

preschool age girl sitting at desk
Article
look at my hand
Slideshow
 
woman with cleaning products
Slideshow
young boy with fever
Article
 

worried kid
fitArticle
boy on father's shoulder
Article
 
Child with red rash on cheeks
Slideshow
girl thinking
Article
 

babyapp
New
Child with adhd
Slideshow
 
rl with friends
fitSlideshow
Syringes and graph illustration
Tool
 
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Build a Fitter Family Challenge – Get your crew motivated to move.
Feed Your Family Better Challenge - Tips and tricks to healthy up your diet.
Sleep Better Challenge - Snooze clues for the whole family.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply

WebMD Special Sections