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Spirit of Acadiana: 25 years for St. Jude and KATC-TV

Posted at 7:11 PM, Aug 04, 2020

Danny Thomas’ words from nearly 60 years ago still ring true.

“They said it was impossible, but at this very moment as I speak, in the city of Memphis, Tennessee there is being constructed a hospital in the form of a star.”

That was the early 1960s.

In the mid-1990s, there was a relatively new project called the St. Jude Dream Home.

Shreveport, Louisiana was the first and Acadiana was the second.

Bob Austin was donating a lot on Digby Lane in Lafayette, but Fred & Emile Reggie needed a voice.

“We said we have to have a television partner,” recalls Fred Reggie, former member of the St. Jude Board of Directors and organizer of that first St. Jude Acadiana Dream Home. “Bob said, ‘I know Dick Harbison, the general manager at Channel Three, we built their new set’.”

The Reggies met with Harbison. “I told him the St. Jude story, and Dick said, ‘That sounds pretty good’. I left him with the proposal.”

But the Reggies initial ask of KATC wasn’t much. “Can you guys supply us with a couple of commercials here and there?” remembers Harbison.

Three days later, the KATC general manager called Fred Reggie back.

“He said, ‘Look I like the program, but there’s a problem with your proposal,” smiles Reggie.

What had he done wrong, wondered Reggie. “And I said, ‘What’s the problem?’ Dick says, ‘I don’t think you asked for enough’. Let me repeat that: ‘I don’t think you asked for enough’. When have you heard anyone in media say that?”

“And I said, “Fred, you’re gonna’ get more than a few commercials. You’re gonna’ get news, primetime; I explained it to him, and he said, ‘God bless you’.”

That first year in 1996 was a huge success.

“The first year, we blew the doors off with almost $600,000 raised,” says Reggie. “Tickets just sold like hotcakes, they really did.”

KATC and St. Jude, and you, the people of Acadiana—it’s the silver anniversary.

"Thank You."

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