St. Jude Children's Hospital Donor, Henri Degre: More Public Involvement Needed to Keep Children Healthy
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St. Jude Children's Hospital Donor, Henri Degre: More Public Involvement Needed to Keep Children Healthy

Phoenix : AZ : USA | Apr 05, 2014 at 11:00 PM PDT
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Donors to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, like fire safety advocate Henri Degre, are encouraging increased public participation to ensure children are healthy. When the public crashed Twitter by retweeting Ellen DeGeneres’s Oscar selfie, they also helped fund the research hospital, though they might not have known it. The famous photo inspired Samsung to donate $1.5 million to St. Jude Children’s Hospital, one of DeGeneres’s favorite charities.

DeGeneres took the record breaking Oscar selfie on a Samsung Galaxy. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the picture was retweeted 1.9 million times in less than an hour and a half. That number rose to 3.25 million after only three days.

Previously, according to the Wall Street Journal, the most popular twitter post ever was a picture of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama after his 2012 re-election. The Obama's photo was retweeted over 800,000 times. Samsung told TechCrunch in a statement, “We were delighted to see Ellen organically incorporate the device into the selfie moment...she captured something that nobody expected. In honor of this epic moment . . . we wanted to make a donation to Ellen’s charities of choice.”

To thank DeGeneres for her tweet and Samsung for their donation, Marlo Thomas joined St. Jude patients to make their own version of the photo, according to WMC-TV. St. Jude is the only private pediatric cancer hospital in the United States that provides free treatment whether or not a family has insurance or the financial means to cover the costs. All the research that St. Jude does is freely disseminated. The breakthroughs they have made over the last 50 years have improved childhood cancer survival from 20 percent to over 80 percent. According to representatives from the hospital, “public donations provide more than 75 percent of our funding.”

Incredible stories of survival emerge from St. Jude on a daily basis. St. Jude’s Promise Magazine recalls the struggle of Camille Davis, who was diagnosed with cancer before the age of one. While going through chemotherapy she started getting fluid around her heart. At St. Jude Children’s Hospital she went into cardiac arrest and was had to be saved with CPR. After open heart surgery and a bout of intensive care, Camille recovered and her cancer went into remission.

St. Jude staff know how important it is to provide patients with plenty of time to play and learn. Play is also essential to the mental health of children. According to research presented in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, play therapy is counseling for children. Children naturally express themselves through play. The research shows that play therapy provides children with an outlet for self-expression. When children are going through difficult times, play therapy can be used to help them communicate difficult emotions and get through life changes.

St. Jude tries to incorporate play into so many aspects of their patients’ treatments. The hospital has an ongoing request for donations of supplies for activities and nearly everything on the list is a game or toy.

When James C. Wilber, a New York firefighter, tragically passed away his family knew what they wanted people to do in his memory. A veteran fireman who had 40 years in the force, Wilber died in the line of duty in February 2014, according to WBNG News. He was fighting cancer and passed away on his way to help at an accident. His family began a program called “Jim’s Fire Squad” in his memory to provide St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital with toy fire trucks. The family told WBNG News, “We also hope the trucks serve as a constant reminder that the patients at Saint Jude’s have the strength inside them that only a true fireman could have.”

Providing children with confidence and strength is something Henri Degre is passionate about. A former police officer and regular St. Jude donor, Degre is the general manager of product development for Mobile Concepts by SCOTTY. In 2011, he unveiled the iScotty Fire Safety House to teach kids about fire safety.

According to Degre, “The iScotty model is all about education. It’s about preventing accidents long before they start, by teaching our children how to adequately deal with fire and fire-related emergencies.” An early version of the trailer was given to FDNY’s Fire Safety Education Unit in 2009, and according the New York City Fire Department, it opened to much fanfare.

While fires may be preventable and children can be taught proper safety; cancer is not something a child can be taught to avoid. Even so, St. Jude is tirelessly working towards finding not just a cure but a prevention for cancer. Their Cancer Prevention and Control Program is an interdisciplinary team that works on important breakthroughs in the fight for cancer prevention. In the meantime, from huge viral media donations sparked by the likes of Ellen DeGeneres to individual donations by people like Henri Degre, public donations are vitally needed to support the important work of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Kristance Harlow contributed to this article

ManseoRk is based in Kolkata, Bangla, India, and is a Stringer on Allvoices.
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