Civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King and entertainer Danny Thomas had a lot in common, according to Thomas’ daughter, actress and activist Marlo Thomas. “They both had big dreams. Dr. King dreamed of freedom and equality, and my father dreamed of saving children from catastrophic diseases.”
Ms. Thomas was one of 6 award recipients honored at the 2012 National Civil Rights Museum Freedom Awards, Oct. 16th in Memphis. FedEx sponsored the Humanitarian Award, and FedEx Express Executive Vice President and CFO Cathy Ross made the presentation to Ms. Thomas for her fundraising work with the institution her father founded, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
In her introductory remarks, Ross mentioned the longtime support FedEx has provided to St. Jude, most notably through the FedEx-St. Jude Golf Classic. “The sponsorship raised the level of support the golf tournament brings to St. Jude to more than $25 million since 1970,” said Ross.
Thomas said that when the hospital opened in 1962 one of the deadliest and most common forms of cancer in children was lymphoblastoma, which had only a four percent survival rate. Because of the world class research and innovative treatment at St. Jude, “the survival rate is now 94 percent.”
Also recognized were: International Freedom Award winner and 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank which makes collateral-free loans to the poor in Bangladesh; National Freedom Award winner Dr. Bernard Lafayette, a colleague of Dr. Martin Luther King and former leader with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; and “The Three Doctors,” Rameck Hunt, Sampson Davis and George Jenkins who grew up fatherless in New Jersey housing projects and made a pact early in life to help each other graduate from medical school.