• Finding cures, saving children: For this Baylor alumna, the fight against cancer never stops

    Emily Callahan speaking at a St. Jude event

    “Your child has cancer.” It’s a phrase no one wants to hear, or can imagine hearing. Sadly, it still happens everyday. Baylor alumna Emily Callahan (BA ’00) has made it her mission to ensure that when families hear those devastating words, they know they aren’t alone and that there is hope.

    For just over a decade, Callahan has served as the chief marketing and experience officer for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital‘s fundraising and awareness organization. Under her tenure, the institution has seen notable growth and success — thanks in large part to Callahan’s “unstoppable” work ethic. Her strategy? Intentionally making the patients and their families the voice of the organization. “Up close, it’s the patients, their families, and their beautiful, hard earned journeys of tenacity, hope and love that inspire all of us,” she says.

    These open, honest efforts have driven the institution’s annual support up from $600 million in 2010 to more than $1.7 billion today. And those numbers don’t just cover part of the bill; the funds from these campaigns make it possible for St. Jude to cover the full cost for families in their darkest hour — everything from travel, housing and food to the ground-breaking research and treatments.

    Currently, Callahan and her team are focused on growing St. Jude’s supporter base worldwide so that doctors can treat children outside of the United States. To accomplish this, St. Jude’s has partnered with the World Health Organization.

    “Right now, the survivor rates for children with cancer in some countries are as bad as they were when St. Jude first opened our doors in 1962,” Callahan explains. “It doesn’t have to be that way because of the life-saving research discoveries and treatments we’ve developed. We’re aiming to bring those answers to thousands of children around the world.”

    Aside from donations, Callahan and her team consistently share heartwarming stories from St. Jude to inspire positive sentiments and demonstrate the positive effects of human impact. She considers herself very fortunate to work for a pervasively purposeful organization founded on the parable of the Good Samaritan: to love and care for our neighbor regardless of race, color or creed.

    “Our focus at St. Jude is purpose- and life-affirming — an ethos Baylor shaped and that I’ve sought out intentionally in my professional and personal life since I graduated,” says Callahan. “To be part of this global mission is truly an honor without precedence.”

    Sic ’em, Emily and St. Jude!

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