Meet The Lebanese-American Man Who Gave Hope To Children With Cancer

A comedian and a singer, most people know Danny Thomas as the performer who had put a smile on everyone’s face. The late artist’s successful career spanned five decades. 

He created and starred in Make Room for Daddy, which is one of the most successful and long-running sitcoms in the history of American network television. The actor also appeared as a guest star on many popular shows of his time.

Other than making people smile through comedy, he also put a smile on children’s faces by giving them another chance at life.

Thomas was the founder of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. This pediatric treatment and research facility treats children who have cancer for free.

Who was Danny Thomas?

Danny Thomas was born as Amos Muzyad Yakhoob Kairouz in 1912 in Michigan to Charles Yakhoob Kairouz and Margaret Taouk who were Maronite Catholic immigrants from Deir El Ahmar, Lebanon. Thomas is one of 10 children.

He worked in television, radio, film, and music. Make Room For Daddy, which was later known as The Danny Thomas Show, is the essential part of his career as an actor. The show successfully ran for 11 years.

Thomas played the role of Danny Williams, a famous comedian and nightclub entertainer. He encounters difficult and funny situations when he tries to balance his career and his family. 

The Lebanese-American artist also recorded several Arabic folk songs in collaboration with Toufic Barham for a St. Jude Hospital Foundation fundraiser record. 

The story behind St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Before becoming a big hit on TV, Danny Thomas was living paycheck to paycheck. The devout Christian prayed to St. Jude Thaddeus and promised the saint that, if he became successful, he would build a shrine for him. St. Jude is the patron saint of desperate cases and lost causes. 

Years later, Thomas became successful. He founded the American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities (ALSAC), which is the fundraising organization of St. Jude. ALSAC helped him realize his dream. 

On February 4, 1962,  Thomas founded the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee to honor his promise.

Thanks to this hospital, the overall survival rate for childhood cancers has risen from 20 percent to 80 percent. In 1970, it issued a statement that would have been impossible a decade before: “Leukemia can no longer be considered an incurable disease.”

St. Jude treats children from across the United States and from more than 70 countries. In fact, the Children’s Cancer Center of Lebanon is an affiliate of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and works in association with the American University of Beirut Medical Center.

In 2010, U.S. News & World Report named St. Jude as the country’s top children’s cancer hospital in its Best Children’s Hospitals rankings.

How does the hospital get funds?

The hospital relies on government grants, insurance recoveries, and philanthropic aid. The principal source of funding is ALSAC. 

In November 2004, St. Jude launched the Thanks and Giving campaign that encourages consumers to help raise funds at participating retailers by adding a donation at checkout or by purchasing specialty items to benefit the hospital.

To note, all patients are treated for free. The hospital also assists families with transportation, lodging, and meals. 

Danny Thomas died at age 79 of heart failure in Los Angeles, California. He celebrated the hospital’s 29th anniversary two days before he died.

Thanks to this man, thousands of children are being treated every year. He keeps putting a smile on people’s faces. That’s truly inspirational.

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