Don’s Blog – March 29, 2012

I am frequently asked what motivated me to start the Julian Rock Memorial.  Many people lose loved ones and do not start charity events.

Losing Julian in 2005 was devastating.  Watching my wife suffering and not being able help made me feel even more helpless.  I became incredibly depressed and stopped taking care of my health.  On March 23, 2010, one of my organs failed and I was rushed to the hospital via ambulance where I nearly died in the ICU.  I would spend the next two months recovering physically and mentally.

It was during this recovery period that I realized I had never really dealt with the loss of Julian.  I decided I wanted to do something for charity in his name; however Julian had arthrogryposis, a rare congenital disorder without a well-known charity.  About this time, my hospital bills starting arriving, totaling over $250,000.  Fortunately, I had great insurance. However, I started thinking about those without insurance and the impact that having a child with a catastrophic pediatric disease would have on them.  We had been donating to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital since Julian’s passing, mostly because of its name and the fact that it helps children. We learned that their mission was to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment.  Most importantly, no child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family’s ability to pay.  I knew that my efforts would go to support St. Jude.

During my recovery, I rediscovered my love for music and started playing guitar again.  I also discovered this crazy, high-energy guitarist on YouTube, Phil X.  Phil’s passion was contagious and inspired me to pursue my enjoyment of the guitar and music.  I reached out to Phil and told him my story and asked for tips.  He provided many tips and encouraged me to create the Julian Rock Memorial and volunteered the first guitar for auction!  Obviously, Phil is an unbelievably talented guitarist, but he is also a very inspiring, kind human being and I will always be so grateful to him for believing in me.  It is no coincidence that I have met the most amazing people through Phil, people that deserve their own future blog entry.

Having chosen a charity and rediscovering my love of music and guitar, creating a Rock Auction made perfect sense.  I am very fortunate that rock icons have been so generous and donated to the Julian Rock Memorial allowing us to raise funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

It’s a great feeling being able to help the children and families of St. Jude.  An unexpected benefit of the charity has been my ability to meet and bond with other parents that have suffered loss or hardships with their children.  I look forward to the continued growth of the charity and helping both groups.

Certificate Received From St. Jude for 2011 Donations

Today we received a wonderful ‘Thank You’ certificate from the St.Jude Children’s Research Hospital for raising over $7,000 in 2011. Thank you so much to all our supporters this year, we couldn’t have done this without you!

Top 10 Facts About St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

  • St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital opened on February 4, 1962 and was founded by the late entertainer Danny Thomas. Its mission is to find cures for children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases through research and treatment.
  • St. Jude is the only pediatric cancer research center where families never pay for treatment not covered by insurance. No child is ever denied treatment because of the family’s inability to pay.
  • The daily operating cost for St. Jude is $1.7 million, which is primarily covered by public contributions.
  • During the past five years, 81 cents of every dollar received has supported the research and treatment at St. Jude.
  • On average, 5,900 active patients visit the hospital each year, most of whom are treated on an outpatient basis.
  • St. Jude has 78 inpatient beds and treats upwards of 260 patients each day.
  • St. Jude is the first institution established for the sole purpose of conducting basic and clinical research and treatment into catastrophic childhood diseases, mainly cancer.
  • In 1962, the survival rate for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common form of childhood cancer, was 4 percent. Today, the survival rate for this once deadly disease is 94 percent, thanks to research and treatment protocols developed at St. Jude.
  • St. Jude has developed protocols that have helped push overall survival rates for childhood cancers from less than 20 percent when the hospital opened in 1962 to 80 percent today.
  • St. Jude was the first institution to develop a cure for sickle cell disease with a bone marrow transplant and has one of the largest pediatric sickle cell programs in the country.
  • In 2009, Parents magazine named St. Jude the No. 1 pediatric cancer care hospital in the country, based on the magazine’s survey of more than 75 children’s hospitals nationwide.
  • The current St. Jude survival rates for selected childhood cancers now include:
Diagnosis Survival Rate
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), most common form of childhood cancer 94%
Hodgkin lymphoma (cancer of the lymph system) 90%
Medulloblastoma (a type of brain tumor) 85%
Wilms tumor (kidney tumor) 90%

How to Be a Hero – Danny Thomas, the Founder of St Jude

A HERO is a person who does special things to HELP people. Every Hero starts as a child, and every child can CHOOSE to be a HERO…

Just Like THIS one…

It was four o’clock in the morning and Amos Jacobs was fast asleep.

Suddenly, there came a scream from the front room where Amos’s baby brother had just been bitten by a sewer rat.

In those days, a rat bite almost certainly meant death.

That’s when Mrs. Jacobs promised in her heart that if her baby wold just live, she would spend a whole year begging for pennies to give to poor people.

Well, the baby did recover, and Mrs. Jacobs, who was very poor herself, did raise money for other people who desperately needed it.  She always followed through on what she promised.

When Amos grew up, he wanted to make a career in show business, because he could be a very funny man.

But times were very hard for him in the beginning. It looked like he might not make it, and he didn’t have any money.

Then, remembering his mother’s example, he decided to make a promise, too. He promised that if he became a successful entertainer, he would use his money and his influence to build a place where sick children could get better.

Well, as actors often do, Amos Jacobs changed his name. He became Danny Thomas, and eventually, he became a huge success.

Soon, Danny Thomas knew it was time to make good on his promise, and in 1962, he created St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, a place where now thousands of children have gone to get the best medical care around.

And it was first made possible about a man who learned about keeping promises when he was just a child. That man was Danny Thomas, a very special hero.

And that’s what I know about the beginning of this HERO!

And you know what else? I know that YOU can CHOOSE to be a HERO too!

Danny Thomas


Danny Thomas is a HERO because he made sure to keep his promises, Danny Thomas promised that if he ever got rich and famous, he would help sick children to get better.

And he did. Because Danny Thomas founded St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital!