1. Please describe/explain your connection to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
My grandfather was on the original board of directors for the hospital with the founder (of the whole hospital), Danny Thomas. Now my dad and uncle are on the board and they go down to Memphis, Tennessee (where the hospital is) a bunch of times each year.
2. Have you ever been to the actual hospital in Tennessee?
I actually have been a few times. It's one of my favorite places in the world! You would think going to a hospital is boring and depressing but going to St. Jude is so uplifting. That is because it is such a child-friendly hospital. Each room has a different theme (under the sea, in the jungle, the city room etc.) so it's so much fun to go into all the different ones. Most of the murals and paintings are close to the ground so the little children can enjoy them. Also, every day there is a different color hospital bracelet. All these things make the hospital so easy for the kids in such rough situations. Also, the doctors and nurses couldn't be nicer! They all treat the patients, families, and visitors with such kindness and respect. There are always activities going on for the patients to get their minds off their bad health. The AMAZING thing about St. Jude is that they don't let people pay for the medical care, housing, food, transportation, and activities at the hospital. This was part of Danny Thomas's saying that "No child should be denied care because of an inability to pay." -Danny Thomas. Even if the patient's family has a lot of money and all kinds of insurance, St. Jude won't let you pay. This lets the parents spend more time with their sick kids and less focusing on money. However donations are always welcome because the hospital runs on over 1 million dollars a day.
3. How has the hospital affected your life?
The hospital has affected my life in the way that it has made me more spiritual. I pray to St. Jude (the Saint of Hopeless Causes) when I need help. Also, the hospital has taught me to be so appreciative of the things I take for granted like my health. Helping others is something that I learn every time I go to Memphis. However, I have to say the main thing that I learn from the hospital is to have hope. Always have hope. Hope is pretty much the motto of the hospital. When times are hard if you look for the light, you will eventually see it.
4. You wrote "Ice Cream with Suzanne" about your friend who died of cancer. Why did she make such an impact on you?
The reason why Suzanne Pavlat made such an impression on me was because she was always so upbeat. No matter where I saw her a smile was always on her face. I was amazed that someone so, so sick could be that happy. Suzanne never took anything for granted and she treasured each day. I hope to live my life like Suzanne lived hers. Even though she died a little before her twelfth birthday, St. Jude was able to prolong her life many years she wouldn't have had otherwise.
5. How can people our age help out with this cause?
People our age can help out with St. Jude through many things. You can sign up to do a mathathon, which is a bunch of math problems, and you get sponsored for each one (1 cent/problem, 2 dollars/problem etc). Also there are many races such as the trikathon or a bikeathon where you can get sponsored per mile. During Thanksgiving when you're buying your Christmas gifts, St. Jude has something called "Thanks and Giving". Basically it is if you go to a store with the green "Thanks and Giving" sign, the store donates some of your purchase to St. Jude. I know Target, CVS, and Macy's (I think) are part of the "Thanks and Giving" program. Also, you can do things such as lemonade stands and send the money to St. Jude. Another idea is to have your friends make donations to St. Jude instead of having them buy you birthday presents. Every penny counts!
6. What have you done to help out with St. Jude's?
To help out with St. Jude I have:
7. How does it feel to see the children who go to St. Jude's and know that you're making a difference in their lives?
Whenever I go to the hospital I just feel like I want to help. Not that I need to because my family is involved, but because I WANT to. It's such a rewarding feeling to know that I am helping out the kids in need of a lot of help. I encourage others to go to www.stjude.org or and www.lizzieayoub.com (my website) to find out more about how to help and buy my CD/donate at my website where all the profits go directly to St. Jude. (Sorry my website hasn't been updated in a while)
8. Do think that the St. Jude Hospital will always be a big part of your life?
Yes, I do think that it will because I have always grown up with two families: My real family and then my St. Jude family. It will always remain a huge part of my life.
9. When you wrote "Ice Cream with Suzanne," you were obviously thinking about Suzanne, but did you have any other inspirations?
When I wrote "Ice Cream with Suzanne", the inspiration that I had came from Suzanne (obviously) and also all the other patients at St. Jude in such hard times, but at such a great place.
10. Through all of your experiences with St. Jude, what have you learned about life (in general)? And what has been the best experience for you?
Through all my experiences with St. Jude I have learned that it is so important to not take things for granted. Your health, your happiness, and your family. Some people don't have any of that. Live each day to the fullest. The best experience is just going to St. Jude and meeting all of the patients and making them smile.