Passion for Supporting St. Jude, Told by Greg Keller

Greg Keller, President Emeritus and Operations Vice President, had the opportunity to spend four days at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis a few months ago and wanted to share that experience in hopes for people to understand his passion for supporting St. Jude.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Executive Director of Information Technology, Alan Harrison, right, gives Garden Fresh President Emeritus and Operations Vice President Greg Keller a tour when Greg recently visited the hospital in Memphis.

“Those of you who really know me understand that I am a very passionate man. I am passionate about my family, my friendships, my company, and my involvement with helping others. Like most of you, the most meaningful things in my life have also made me a better person.

Most of you know that no family pays for the care for their child or the care for the family while they are in Memphis. The story of how Danny Thomas started St. Jude is truly inspirational, and, if you have not had the opportunity, is a story that all of you should read. To learn more about Danny’s story, click here.

The St. Jude focus is on children with cancer, period! Some of these children have cancers that have not even been given a name; they are that rare. When you enter the complex you see children, of all ages, and their families everywhere. You can imagine that keeping your emotions in check is not easy. All of the children and families are like brave soldiers on a mission to defeat incomparable odds.

The “ABCs of Cancer” wall showcases children’s stories from A to Z about their cancer journey. Greg says this is “…perhaps the most inspiring…” part of the facility.

There is a lot of visual inspiration, perhaps the most inspiring is an area of the hospital where the children have written of their journey. Their writings are posted on the walls and as I read them, I wondered how I would have handled all this as a parent. The children’s writings are so well done; mature, brave and very defiant! They are determined to beat whatever cancer that they have. The children come from all over the United States and the world. St. Jude is the epicenter for the fight against childhood cancer.

The next part of my experience was equally inspiring. The employees at St. Jude are like none other. From the CEO to the parking attendants, every one of them is there, not for the money or the recognition, but because, they too, are on a mission. They are on a mission to save the children or, at least, support the children on their journey, wherever it may lead.

St. Jude employees hail from about 100 countries and in one of the main hallways they have the flags of every country that they represent. Greg says the St. Jude team members are “…passionate, caring, and selfless in their calling…”

The employees come from 100 countries. In one of the main hallways they have the flags of every country that they represent. While impressive, you cannot help but realize the magnitude of their effort. Every one of them is passionate, caring, and selfless in their calling. While I want to help the children, I found myself equally wanting to support every employee in their effort to give the children and their families the very best of care.

It takes over $2 million a day to operate St. Jude. Only 12% percent of the money they need to operate comes from insurance. The vast majority of support comes from individual donations.  They do have corporate support, but it pales in comparison with the support of individuals from all over the world.

My hope is that this becomes an annual effort for us and something that binds all of us together. John Morberg obviously shares my passion and the two of us have a goal of someday maybe, just maybe, we can raise enough to care for the children for one day of the expense it takes to operate St. Jude. That would be quite an accomplishment.”

About St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. It is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. Treatments invented 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. St. Jude is working to drive the overall survival rate for childhood cancer to 90 percent, and we won’t stop until no child dies from cancer. St. Jude freely shares the discoveries it makes, and every child saved at St. Jude means doctors and scientists worldwide can use that knowledge to save thousands more children. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food – because all a family should worry about is helping their child live. Join the St. Jude mission by visiting, liking St. Jude on Facebook ( and following us on Twitter (@stjude).

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