The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).

Of Bradley County Tn.


                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.








by Toneeke Henderson

Years ago when our daughter Rina was eleven, she had a friend named Adam S. He was a really nice boy and was a real friend.

One day Adam had become ill. The illness was later diagnosed as Cancer. He was cared for at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis. When he wrote Rina a letter, he would tell what he was going through with his illness and even drew a picture of the big machines in which they used to diagnose and treat him at St. Jude.

Adam lost his fight against cancer and has been memorialized in our hearts

forever. Someone once asked Adam of all the things you want to do in life what is it that you would choose? He simply replied "to play at Carnegie Hall." You see Adam was a very gifted young man who could play most any instrument by ear. Oh my, what the world has missed out on.

Ironically years later our daughter Rina would become employed by St. Jude. I find that with such a compassionate heart, that it was God that sent her there, for what ever reason may even yet continue to be unknown. I believe through our faith that we are placed into the world strategically by God to insure certain tasks are performed in what ever small or tedious jobs we hold.

Toneeke Henderson

Danny Thomas; founder of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital was an inspiration to the world. Danny knew from his childhood that there was such a great need for ""something"" different in the world. Danny himself was one of nine children born to an immigrant family on Jan 6, 1912 during a blizzard in Deerborn Michigan. At the age of 10 Danny Thomas took on a job as a newspaper boy to help support the family.

Danny became a candy maker for a burlesque theater at age 11, continuously working that job till he was 18. He took on the role of many jobs at once to hopefully one day begin a career in show business. He did just that.

He went to Detroit with two suits and several pairs of shoes. His first job was a radio show called "The Happy Hour Club." All  Danny wanted to do in life was to make people laugh. He met a young lady on the same show named Rose Marie and later she became his wife and the mother of their children. He was later discovered by a talent scout stranded in town by a snow storm.

As life went on Danny became a well known actor, comedian, singer, and business man. As the birth of their first child neared (whom we all came to know as Marlo Thomas) Danny struggled between his dedication to his new found career and his responsibility to his wife and new born child.

Danny's way to deal with such issues was to pray. As he knelt before St. Jude, the patron saint of the hopeless

causes and impossible dreams, he begged for a sign. Making a promise to establish a shrine to St. Jude if he would show him the direction of his life.

In less then a year Danny was making $500.00 a week in Chicago at the 5100 club. He was one of the most

loved entertainers from his era. One TV series in particular he made was "Make Room for Daddy", which ran for 11 seasons and appeared opposite of "I Love Lucy." Danny had never forgotten the pledge he had made to St. Jude.

As a devoted Catholic, Danny had high respect for his faith and the friendship of his mentor Roman Catholic Archbishop of Chicago, Samuel Cardinal Stritch. It was with the help of the Cardinal that he found the idea of a hospital for needy children. A hospital where they could get medical treatment for catastrophic illness with out the prejudice of race, creed, or the inability to pay. No suffering child would be turned away.

Danny had known the hardships of life and this made it an easy decision to complete such a hospital. A dream come true. The dedication and opening of St.. Jude Children's Research Hospital was Feb. 4 1962.

Danny Thomas was present for the anniversary celebration held Feb. 4, 1991 and two days later on Feb. 6, 1991, Danny Thomas died of a massive heart attack. His work continues on and progresses forwards in hope of a cure for such diseases.

The reason I chose this topic is because  it is something that should be shared. This past weekend while in Memphis, my daughter took me on a tour of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. It was amazing. Our Daughter Rina had worked for St. Jude for three years and knew by giving the tours, the importance of giving the right information.

We started at the chapel which I cannot express the beauty that expounds on the walls in such a manner that "total awe" is not even the word. We then went into the hospital. Hearing children's laughter echoing through the hallways gave me a chill that brought tears and a smile to my own heart. As we walked the hallways she told me of the different uses the rooms and departments had.

There were children and parents everywhere. Children riding tricycles with masks on to avoid germs, yet smiling underneath. Murals line the walls that inspire the mind to cope and see beyond all reasoning. A simple relaxing atmosphere which is much needed in illness.

In one hallway in particular, the art work that dons the walls is by the patients both individually and as team efforts. The brilliance in color and mind is again such an awe I cannot describe. It is as though I could feel their anguish and pain and fear. No you cannot imagine, nor could I, the extent that it must take those innocent minds.

The final artwork that I saw were of cartoons. They were created in all the newspapers to announce the death of Danny Thomas in a humorous way, mimicking the movie he was in  from "Make Room for Daddy" to now say "" Make Room for Danny"" with angels at the gate. The one cartoon that made my eyes water and my heart feel the loss was last in line, it was a picture of the statue of St. Jude that graces the entrance to the Hospital. This particular cartoon had the statue of St. Jude sitting on his pedestal crying at the loss of a wonderful soul who gave faith and hope to the world of God's smallest gifts, the children.

I wish we can all be like Danny Thomas, continuously striving to make the world a better place in our faith and in our lives. Life has no handbook nor does it have instructions. You simply live it to the best that you can with what you have, when you have it. Not everything will be candy coated and sometimes we override our very own options with thoughts of what we want rather then what we need.

We were all children once and growing up is hard enough without having to endure those "extras" or illnesses that burden our physical selves to the ground. I am thankful more and more each day that what I have is not as harsh as the next guy and yet I feel bad for the next guy's burdens too.

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is like an extended family to those who are in need of its services. Our daughter Rina found that as well. I had the great opportunity to meet all the people she worked with and to see their eyes light up when she came by during our visit at the hospital, the ALSAC St. Jude office and to the local Starbucks coffee shoppe near by. They are Rina's other extended family that wished she could still be there with them and yet they knew she needed to continue to grow.

When they heard she was going to have a baby they were as excited as we are. That's what makes you feel like you have left something wonderful of yourself with others.

I again must now sum this one up as the editor was awaiting my page two days ago...

Life, it is a wonderful gift, unwrapping it sometimes takes on a whole new meaning to surprise. If it were you that had a catastrophic illness, could you not find one ounce of light to guide you, to give you courage, to muster a smile.

Time may not be on anyone's side at any given moment, but for what you have of it, if you spend it wisely you will reap an astonishing amount of love from whatever angle you chose to go from.

We are not all Danny Thomas, yet we all have that greatness within ourselves to make a difference.

If any should ever question the work of a great saint, then they should surely need to visit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, for it will truly answer your inquiring mind and inspire you to understand that just a little bit of faith can make a difference.