Chili’s restaurants support St. Jude, No. 1 pediatric cancer hospital

Lake and Sumter county businesses and organizations that raise funds to support St. Jude hospital know that they’re not only helping children with cancer, they’re also backing the best.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is ranked the No. 1 pediatric cancer hospital on U.S. News & World Report’s 28th annual “Best Hospitals” list. The publication compared nearly 5,000 medical centers nationwide in 25 specialties, procedures, and conditions, a news release states.

St. Jude, based in Memphis, Tennessee, earned a perfect overall score of 100 under the publication’s criteria. St. Jude creates more cancer clinical trials than any other children’s hospital in the United States, and thanks to donations and fundraisers, no family receives a bill from St. Jude for anything, including treatment, travel, housing, and food.

One fundraiser is going on this weekend. The St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer is scheduled for 8:30am Saturday, Oct. 21, at Fun Spot America Theme Parks, 5700 Fun Spot Way, Orlando. Registration is still open at fundraising.stjude.org/site/TR/Walk/Walk?pg=entry&fr_id=73383.

As of Friday morning, the event had raised pledges of $92,711 toward its goal of $150,000, according to the website. One of the top fundraisers, at $2,880, is Tony Kramer and his team from Chili’s Grill & Bar in Mount Dora. Several Chili’s locations, including those in Lady Lake and Clermont, are participating in the event. Nationally since 2002, Chili’s has raised more than $65 million, the most funds for St. Jude from a single partner campaign, the website states.

Tony posted this call to action on his team site:

“I give thanks for the fact that a place like St. Jude exists to treat the sickest of the sick kids and give hope to parents around the world. I give thanks for the researchers working day and night at St. Jude to help find a cure to end childhood cancer. I have been blessed to have been given a healthy life and am very grateful for this. I get great joy in being able to help these kids in any way I can.

“Any donation can and will help a ton! I understand that everyone needs money and that it is tight at times, but we have the opportunity and time to make more money. A lot of these kids do not have the luxury of having another opportunity or more time. They need our help NOW. One of Chili’s mottos with St. Jude has always been ‘Give Till It Hurts.’ Well, I can tell you right now, giving to these kids doesn’t hurt. In fact, it feels pretty damn good. Not asking for your entire check, every little bit will help! Your change can help bring change!”

In addition, Gator Harley-Davidson in Leesburg is a big supporter of St. Jude. The motorcycle shop will be part of the sixth annual Cruisin’ for St. Jude poker run Nov. 18. The run will start at AMVETS Post 1992, 32201 Amvets Way in Mount Dora, and end at Harley-Davidson, 1745 U.S. Highway 441. The event will include breakfast, prizes, contests, auctions, entertainment, food, and a full bar. Call Jan at Gator Harley-Davidson at 352.267.3190 for more information.

St. Jude is the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive care center devoted solely to children, having received the NCI’s highest ranking of “exceptional.” Treatments developed at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20 percent to 80 percent since the hospital opened more than 50 years ago, the release states. The hospital has top survival rates for some of the most aggressive childhood cancers, including acute lymphoblastic leukemia and medulloblastoma.

“Recognition as the No. 1 hospital for children with cancer is a testament especially to our clinical staff, who won’t stop their lifesaving research and care until no child dies from cancer,” Dr. Ellis Neufeld, St. Jude clinical director, physician-in-chief, and executive vice president, says in the release. “As we work to set the standard for pediatric cancer care, recognition such as this reaffirms that our focus and efforts are in the right place. St. Jude is truly unique.”

The hospital earned excellent ratings for five-year cancer survival, ability to prevent infections throughout the hospital and in the intensive care unit, number of patients and new patients, number of surgeries, nurse staffing, bone marrow transplant services, advanced clinical services and clinical support services offered, availability of specialized clinics and programs available, availability of full-time subspecialists, reputation with physicians in the specialty, commitment to best practices and quality improvement, adoption of health information technology, commitment to clinical research, help for families, enlisting families in structuring care, and providing advanced palliative care.

Dr. James R. Downing

“We are honored to know that U.S. News & World Report recognizes our commitment to integrating unsurpassed clinical care and innovative research to find cures and save children with cancer,” Dr. James R. Downing, St. Jude president and chief executive officer, says in the release. “This recognition is an outstanding external acknowledgment for our institution, but more importantly for the dedicated St. Jude faculty and staff who devote their time, talent, and energy to the patients we care for every day.”

This year’s “Best Hospitals” rankings were based on objective measures, including clinical outcomes, patient volume, infection control, adequacy of nurse staffing, efficiency and coordination of care delivery, and compliance with best practices. Hospitals’ pediatric cancer scores were based on various measures of clinical care, with 85 percent of each hospital’s score coming from data collected through a detailed U.S. News clinical survey of children’s hospitals and the remaining percentage reflecting nominations from pediatric specialists and subspecialists who responded to surveys and recommended the hospital for serious cases in their specialty.

To learn more, visit stjude.org or follow St. Jude on social media at @stjuderesearch.

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