By Casey Liss
Walking in Memphis

Last week, I was lucky enough to be invited to visit Memphis, Tennessee, to participate in the invite-only St. Jude Play Live+ Summit. Just about 400 game streamers, fashion and fitness influencers, and a handful of podcasters all came to learn more about St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

The two-day event was something else. I sent this message in the Relay Slack about halfway through the opening session:

I'm so in the bag for St. Jude and I haven't even made it on campus yet. 🥺

During my time there, I heard many stories that went something like this:

[I/my child/my sibling] was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Our local doctors had no idea what to do, and told us [patient] had about a 10% chance of surviving.

We called St. Jude, and hours later, we had plane tickets to Memphis in-hand. Days later, [patient] was getting treated.

Many times, the same story. St. Jude would turn a hopeless situation — often times quite literally a death sentence — to a story of perseverance, effort, and survival.

How can you not love such an amazing organization?

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

The campus is, of course, amazing. It’s also a bit odd — it’s a place that, at a glance, serves two different masters. On the one hand, their number one priority is the treatment of the patients that come through their doors. But simultaneously, they are doing everything in their power to complete their mission: ensuring no child should die in the dawn of life. That means intense, multidisciplinary, collaborative research. Research that is then given away, so that hospitals around the world have the opportunity to use treatments invented at St. Jude. All this while also doing everything they can to accommodate patient families, including siblings, who are swept along for this terrible, awful ride.

Naturally, St. Jude endeavors to think of everything — including such basic needs as having a salon and school on-site.

To quote my dear friend (and patient dad) Stephen:

The sheer scale of St. Jude is hard to convey unless you’re walking around some of the buildings, learning about the interplay of research and patient care that is unique to St. Jude.

And all of this is accomplished without patient families paying a cent.

It’s a breathtaking place. The magnitude of their mission, the size of the operation, and the staff that believes, through-and-through, that they have a calling to do this. To do whatever they can to help sick kids.

As a part of the tour we took on campus, we spent some time in the Pavilion, which has several exhibits about its history, and that of its founder, Danny Thomas. In there, they had two boards, where you could answer the question “I went to St. Jude and was inspired by…”.

Board with a ton of post-its on it

I can’t help but share two post-its I saw while there:

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. If all goes according to plan, I will be joining several of my friends to participate in the 12-hour Relay FM Podcastathon for St. Jude. I’ll be posting about it again when the time comes, but I hope you join us in raising money for this incredibly meaningful cause.