Thanks and Giving: Heroes in RVA

Walk. To help us live.

Have you considered supporting the St. Jude Give Thanks.Walk right here in Richmond on November 23rd?

They make it easy to help – and registration is free!

Then fundraise!

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is a place close to my heart. I have had the opportunity to visit St. Jude in Memphis, Tennessee in 2001, and again last year, both times to complete the St. Jude Half-Marathon. What I lacked in speed, (I walked it, after all), I made up for in enthusiasm.

So you know where your miles, dollars and words of encouragement are going, here is a glimpse of my amazing experience in Memphis last year to think about as you contemplate making a difference for children…

memphis-marathon-feature-volunteersIt was hopeful, humbling, inspirational and empowering.  Although you might expect that the finish of 13.1 miles was the highlight, it wasn’t.  At the starting line, there was all the typical excitement at a race, but the magic occurred around the 3-mile mark, as we wound our way through the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital campus.  The street was lined with children, parents, caregivers, volunteers, siblings, grandparents and aunts and uncles – all who had familiar ties with patients from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.  Patients waved pom poms, and held signs that WE were their heroes, thanking US.  People were high fiving me and some actually stopped me and graciously shook my hand tightly with both of their hands, with tears in their eyes saying, “Thank you for helping to save my daughter” or “thank you for helping my grandson”.  It was humbling and empowering all at the same time.  And it fortified me to race on.  I thought of those families and all of my sponsors at some point during the race.

The day before the race, I toured St. Jude Children’s Hospital.  They have made great strides over the years since my last visit 10 years ago, both in architectural change and in terms of cancer research.   And all of that research is passed on around the country to local hospitals, so that children in Richmond can receive a protocol developed at St. Jude, right here in RVA.  Some children who are at St. Jude receive services at the hospital for up to 3 years.  Everything is very child centered, and family centered.  Children are transported in wagons instead of wheelchairs.  Children’s art is woven throughout the hospital.  The cafeteria at first glance looks like most hospital cafeterias – except that families receive meal tickets so they are not burdened with the cost of food and can focus on recovery.  Danny Thomas, the founder had a clear vision that the hospital be family focused, and to that end, doctors, nurses, other staff, patients and families all “break bread together” in the same cafeteria. What a fantastic example of support, that goes far beyond the clinical aspects of support.

Thank you for considering helping this important organization.  So how can you help a child today?  Please consider registering, forming a team, and fundraise!  It’s all very easy:

1.       Register for free at

2.       Register as a Team Captain and get your friends, family, and coworkers involved by registering them on your team.

3.       Fundraise! There are prizes for every incentive level you hit, and all of the proceeds directly benefit the kids at St. Jude.

Fiona Bessey-Bushnell

Fiona Bessey-Bushnell is an occupational therapist and writer. A former archaeologist, she now enjoys digging up great stories right here in Richmond. She has an unusual affinity for Venn diagrams and post-it notes. Fiona lives with her husband and two young sons.

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