However, what St. Jude's needs more than anything is the continued funding to support their work, and the students of Union City's Hudson Elementary School are doing their part through their annual Math-a-thon fundraiser.
"Our goal in holding the Math-a-thon is to help the children of the world who are stricken with diseases like cancer, AIDS, and sickle cell anemia," said Zoe Constantinides, coordinator. "St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital is a world leader in the fight against these diseases, and they have made great progress, but only because of the help of people like the citizens of Union City."
Hudson School's Math-a-thon began Feb. 6 and will run for two school weeks. Since 1996, the school community has managed to raise a total of $29,661 without including this year's pledges.
Hudson School's Math-a-thon is also held in memory of Constantinides' son Stan, who was a former student of Hudson School who died in a tragic car accident some years ago.
"In 1996, the principal introduced the fundraiser to me, and I gladly accepted because I always wanted to do something to keep my son's memory alive," said Constantinides.
This year, 150 students have registered to participate in the Math-a-thon, and receive a CD-ROM or print version of the math Funbook to work on.
"We also show the students participating a video of the children at St. Jude, and there are prizes for the students who raise the most [funds]," said Constantinides.
For each problem they complete, sponsors, whether family or friends, make a pledge towards the grand total. The pledges could be from as little as $.03 a problem or more. Students can even enlist the help of local businesses; some which match the total amount collected.
"The number of donations isn't important, but the amount of money they bring is remarkable," said Constantinides. "Some bring in about $200 to $300, which [the school] sends as one [total] donation."
Children are not to solicit pledges door to door, but via phone or e-mail and with the help of their parents.
Hudson's little heroes
The Math-a-thon is sponsored by Six Flags Theme Parks, who provide free passes to their parks for every student raising $35 or more through the program. However, the most important thing for the students of Hudson School is that the kids of St. Jude get better.
"I'm doing the Math-a-thon to help kids that are sick, so they can be like us and have a healthy life," said Rafael Falabella, 8.
"You see these children they are so happy and so interested," said Constantinides. "Their gift is the pleasure they feel knowing they have helped children not as fortunate as they are."
Some kids were already bringing in their change even before beginning the Math-a-thon, like second grader Jacklyn Velasquez, who brought in 16 cents.
"This is for the Math-a-thon because they are really sick, and I really want them to get home and get out of the hospital," said Jacklyn, 7.
Founded by the late entertainer Danny Thomas, St Jude Children's Research Hospital is an international pioneer in finding cures and saving children with cancer and other life threatening diseases.
Their discoveries have been shared with scientific and medical communities all around the world, and thanks to the financial support of its fund-raising organization ALSAC, families never pay out-of-pocket for treatments not covered by insurance at St. Jude's, and families without insurance are never asked to pay.
You saved my son/daughter...
Hudson School and many others have heard from the parents and children of St. Jude, who have since recovered thanks to their support for treatments. Some have even hit close to home in Union City.
Former Hudson School teacher Catherine Greenslade remembers handing out the booklets for the annual Math-a-thon, but when her own daughter was stricken with cancer she truly appreciated the aid and dedication brought forth by the school community.
"Now it was my child fighting for her life, needing the help of St. Jude Children's Hospital," wrote Greenslade in a published letter for St. Jude's.
Thanks to St. Jude's, Greenslade's daughter is making a full recovery with only a few reminders of her battle with cancer, and without a single out-of-pocket expense.
"But best of all, I didn't have to bury my child," said Greenslade. "Perhaps you are like me; you want to participate in a fundraiser but you feel over whelmed by all of the demands it puts on you. Please consider giving your encouragement, your enthusiasm and your time to support this St. Jude's fundraiser. You never know when cancer might touch your child. I should know."
Hudson County still has a couple of its children being treated at St. Jude's.
"We are asking that all citizens and businesses of Union City support our students as they participate in the program; we really need everyone's help," said Constantinides.
Anyone wishing to make a donation may call the school at (201) 348-5915, or for more information about St. Jude's visit www.stjude.org.