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Spirit of Acadiana: 25 years of saying "Thank you"

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Posted at 7:20 PM, Aug 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-06 20:20:26-04

Danny Thomas was a struggling entertainer back in the 1940s and early 50s, and he made a offer to St. Jude, the patron saint of hopeless causes. Essentially, Thomas said, “You help my career, and I will build you a shrine, one aimed at helping children everywhere”.

Well, Thomas’ career took off, and subsequently, he kept that promise. In the early 1960s, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital opened its doors in Memphis, Tennessee.

“They said it couldn’t be done,” Thomas spoke at the time. “They said it was task that would break my heart. They said it was…impossible.
You know how the story has progressed, and here in Acadiana, it’s another St. Jude success story-- and it’s thanks to you. It’s been 25 years for the St. Jude Dream Home project, 25 years since good people with big hearts began rising to the occasion.

“You know,” begins Mike DeHart, a member of the original Acadiana Dream Home organizational team circa 1995-96, “once the construction began we went out and started to sell tickets. You know things so nebulous as ‘how do you track all of these tickets?’ So, we did spreadsheets and spreadsheets and spreadsheets.”

Mike DeHart and his Wright-Moore-DeHart CPA (accounting) firm made sure all of the tickets were indeed accounted for, and that things were on the up-and-up. “Making sure that everyone had an equal opportunity to win the Dream Home.”

Christy McClinton won the home on Digby Lane, and that 1st Dream total of $558,268 –on September 28, 1996--was at the time, the largest first-time fundraiser in the history of St. Jude.

DeHart says using his talents as an accountant to track Dream Home tickets—was his way of giving back, especially since he couldn’t help the kids of St. Jude from the medical side of things. “And I’m a fixer; I like to fix things. Whether it’s a house, relationships, problems and I couldn’t do anything at the hospital to fix them.”

“But when I got home,” DeHart continues, “I could do something. I could contribute my time, talent, some of my financial resources to make the dream home a success.”

My point—and I think Mike Dehart’s point as well--- is that everyone can make a difference. And in terms of our amazing 25 years of St. Jude success right here in Acadiana, everyone—volunteers, builders, donors, ticket buyers—has done just that.

YOU--- Acadiana--- are why we’ve raised yet another $1.2 million dollars for St. Jude patients like our never-to-be-forgotten patients like Zachary Gooch, Zoie Schexnayder, and Allie Domingue, and why so many children and families are being helped each and every day.

“Absolutely,” agrees DeHart. “Look at the statistical evidence if nothing else. How many hundreds of thousands of kids throughout the world were dying young when we started this project 25 years ago?”

Thank you? Just doesn’t seem to be enough. But on behalf of St. Jude and KATC-TV, we sincerely offer those very words
What’s next? Why, continuing the mission of Danny Thomas, of course! Remember Thomas’ promise: “We’re going to begin with leukemia and, with God’s grace, go on to other diseases.”

Our 2020 St. Jude Acadiana Dream Home Giveaway will take place August 30th on KATC-TV.

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