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We are continuing to report on the finances, fundraising and operations of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Do you know something about this charity? Please reach out.
A series of sharp knocks on his driver’s side window startled Jason Burt awake.
It was the middle of the night on a Saturday in 2016. Burt was sleeping in his pickup truck in the parking lot of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in downtown Memphis, Tennessee, where his 5-year-old daughter was being treated for brain cancer. He’d driven more than 500 miles from his home in Central Texas to visit her.
A St. Jude security guard peered into the truck and asked Burt what he was doing. Burt explained that his daughter and her mother, his ex-girlfriend, were staying in the hospital’s free patient housing. But St. Jude provides housing for only one parent. Burt, a school bus driver making $20,000 a year, told the guard he couldn’t afford a hotel. The guard let the exhausted father go back to sleep.
St. Jude would do no more to find him a place to stay.
“They were aware of the situation,” Burt said. “I didn’t push anything. I was just grateful she was getting treated and I was doing what I needed to do.”
St. Jude is the largest and most highly regarded health care charity in the country. Each year, the Memphis hospital’s fundraisers send out hundreds of millions of letters, many with heart-wrenching photographs of children left bald from battling cancer. Celebrities like Jennifer Aniston and Sofia Vergara sing the hospital’s praises in televised advertisements. This year, St. Jude’s fundraising reached outer space. The SpaceX Inspiration4 mission in September included a former St. Jude patient as a crew member.
Last year, St. Jude raised a record $2 billion. U.S. News & World Report ranked it the country’s 10th-best children’s cancer hospital, and St. Jude raised roughly as much as the nine hospitals ahead of it put together. It currently has $5.2 billion in reserves, a sum large enough to run the institution at current levels for the next four and a half years without a single additional donation.
St. Jude makes a unique promise as part of …….