Giving Back: Gospel Stars Lift Spirits With Visit to St. Jude Hospital
Despite being busy with the national United As One Tour and Grammy Award nominations, gospel artists James Fortune and VaShawn Mitchell never forgot their civic and philanthropic responsibilities. On Friday, February 8 - just two days before the 55th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony and the same day as their Memphis concert, the ninth in as many days and cities - Fortune and Mitchell stopped by the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis to bless a special young patient.
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Four year-old Ethan has been diagnosed with pineoblastoma, an extremely rare form of cancer that is only diagnosed between ten and 40 times each year. Naturally, with all that Ethan and his family are dealing with concerning treatment, a visit from two of the gospel industry's biggest stars was a more-than-welcome surprise.
Celebrity visits are very important for the St. Jude patient experience, as they create a sense of normalcy and retreat from the daily realities of illness and disease. Additionally, when stars like Fortune and Mitchell make an appearance, it heightens public awareness of the hospital's mission, helping to raise the more than $1.8 million in operating costs that St. Jude needs on a daily basis. St. Jude founder, Danny Thomas, was an entertainer and frequently used his status and influence among his celebrity friends to raise funds for St. Jude. Thanks to the generosity of Fortune, Mitchell, and countless donors, St. Jude is able to treat some of the world's sickest children with pioneering research and exceptional care, and the best part is that no family ever receives a bill. The hospital covers the cost of treatment, travel, lodging and food for each patient plus one family member.
As a supporter since 2010, James Fortune has visited St. Jude several times, and is intimately invested in the work of the hospital. Last week's visit was VaShawn Mitchell's first, but meeting Ethan and his dad and putting a face to the fight against childhood cancer and other deadly diseases, will most certainly leave a more lasting impression than simple statistics ever could.
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