St. Jude benefits as funds raised for ‘Give Thanks’ walk
by By CHRISTY ARMSTRONG Banner Staff Writer
Sep 26, 2013 | 1470 views | 0 0 comments | 33 33 recommendations | email to a friend | print
St Jude

THE TWO LADIES who have spearheaded local efforts to raise money for a cause they call themselves “passionate” about — the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital — pose for a photo together. From left are Brandi Jones and Rhonda Hackler. By CHRISTY ARMSTRONG
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One Cleveland resident felt so strongly about a cause that she began working alone to raise money to support it.

When a friend joined forces with her, the two began to make more progress than she had on her own, collectively raising more than $6,500 by promoting their chosen cause throughout the community.

The cause was St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Rhonda Hackler said it “touched [her] heart” when she learned about the facility for the first time.

The hospital complex, which is based in Memphis, houses both a medical center and research facilities that focus on serious conditions like pediatric cancer.

While Hackler said she was impressed by the research, what meant the most to her was the children were receiving care that is accessible to them regardless of costs.

“Everything is paid for by St. Jude,” Hackler said, listing expenses like housing and food for families of children being treated there.

All medical treatment costs are covered by the hospital as well, according to the hospital’s website. If a family does not have health insurance to cover a child’s treatment, the hospital will waive all costs. If someone does have insurance, the hospital will waive any out-of-pocket costs.

Each patient must have a certain type of medical problem — one that the research hospital is in the process of researching — and be referred to the hospital by a doctor.

Hackler began fundraising efforts for St. Jude in 2009, raising $35 that first year.

In 2011, Brandi Jones joined her in her efforts by organizing a bake sale at her workplace. That year, they raised $250 together.

“I saw how passionate she was about this,” Jones said. “I wanted to help her with her passion.” 

The very next year, the two formed an official fundraising team and organized local events like a motorcycle ride, a bake sale, a yard sale and a car wash, which all brought in $2,373.

The bike run for motorcycle enthusiasts was held again this year, and the team has so far raised $4,000, bringing the team to a total of $6,808.

Courtney Kissack, a representative from St. Jude’s Nashville office, said she was glad to see two people working together to raise money for the cause.

“We are supporting families, and they are supporting each other,” Kissack said.

Though the hospital is located in Memphis, Jones said the effects of the research produced at St. Jude could make their way to area hospitals in the form of new treatments that could prolong the lives of children facing life-threatening illnesses.

In advance of a “Give Thanks” fundraising walk scheduled for Nov. 23 in Knoxville, Hackler and Jones both said they are trying get people to donate money to help them reach their goal of raising $10,000 for the cause. Both said the goal could be reached if thousands could join and donate $1 per person.

“If you’ll spend $1 on a soda, why not support a good cause?” Jones asked.

For more information about the walk and local St. Jude fundraising efforts, visit the Cleveland team website at