New St. Jude display goes up at Memphis International Airport

June 12, 2009

By Wayne Risher

Airport and hospital officials unveiled a new St. Jude Children's Research Hospital display at Memphis International Airport this morning.

Front and center in Terminal B, the Danny Thomas Terminal, it's designed to welcome patients and families to the city and to remind Memphians what a treasure they have in St. Jude.

Marlo Thomas, the hospital founder's daughter and celebrity face of St. Jude, said the new display added to her already warm feelings about Memphis and the airport.

Focusing on St. Jude's international stature and life-saving advances in research, the display stands just inside the main terminal entrance. The 13-foot-high, 17-foot-wide display is in a spot formerly occupied by a bronze bust of Thomas and an obelisk honoring a Nobel Prize winner.

On the street side, it features a photo of young patients from around the world, with a world map in the background; on the other side, overlooking escalators to the lower-level baggage area is a panorama of St. Jude's newly updated campus on the north end of Downtown. At each end are rotating crystal cubes containing structural biology models of key molecules being studied by St. Jude scientists.

Taking in the view from the escalator side, Thomas, who serves as St. Jude's national outreach director, said, "It's breathtaking. I just think if I was a mom carrying a sick kid and this is the first thing I see, it’s the first glimmer of light that leads them to a beacon of hope. What an insignia for a city."

Thomas, her brother Tony Thomas and other family members joined officials of St. Jude and its fundraising arm, ALSAC, hospital workers and airport officials at the unveiling. The late Danny Thomas, a comedian, film and TV actor and producer, founded St. Jude in 1962.

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Copyright, The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, TN. Used with permission.