STAR 2019 Clinic Challenge


STAR Clinic Challenge for 2019
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

The mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. Consistent with the vision of our founder Danny Thomas, no child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family’s ability to pay. 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.

Instead of wheelchairs, patients are transported in St. Jude’s iconic red wagons. They are all around the hospital, these vehicles of hope and transport, are symbols of childhood and of the St. Jude philosophy of tending to the patients emotional as well as physical state.

Here is where STAR Physical Therapy comes in. We are launching a red wagon fundraising clinic challenge June-September 2019 to support our company wide charity initiative. Our goal is to donate over 100 red wagons to St. Jude.


Caleb Shaffer was diagnosed with Medulloblastoma (brain cancer) at 2 years of age. He had a full tumor resection before his treatment began that left him with posterior fossa syndrome. This surgery left him with moderate ataxia which significantly impacted his balance and ability to do anything independently. He immediately began physical, occupational, and speech therapy at his initial diagnosis hospital (Children’s Hospital of the Kings Daughter’s- Norfolk, VA). And thus began his love affair with all things PT. He received rehabilitations services upwards of 2 hours a day and he absolutely loved it. In a time that many things terrified Caleb, he knew that the therapists were fun and wouldn’t make him have any “ouchies”. When we moved to Memphis, TN to begin induction chemotherapy at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, his therapy continued on an outpatient basis (and inpatient anytime he was admitted). We had appointments in the rehab clinic upwards of 4-5 times a week and he adored all of his therapists. These appointments were such a bright spot in our lives and we always enjoyed seeing Caleb just being a kid- riding a bike, crawling through tunnels, playing basketball- all things we had taken for granted before his diagnosis. Sometimes (rightfully so) Caleb would be in a sour mood and his therapists always knew how to pull him out of it and get him to play. They truly made the days tolerable and even with Caleb’s poor prognosis from the start, they never gave up on him. They never treated him as a lost cause. It was so apparent to us that they absolutely adored their jobs.

After 3 rounds of high-dose chemotherapy and all the ill side effects (vincristine- severe right foot drop and neuropathy, cisplatin- hearing loss, intense nausea and weakness), Caleb decided he was done and breathed his last breath on earth and first in eternity just two months after his 3rd birthday. Caleb’s battle was just 4 months and 30 days from his initial diagnosis. He is always, ALWAYS immensely missed but we take comfort that Caleb is no longer confined by his earthly illness and is free to run in Heaven without having to use a walker or wear a helmet. On May 28 it will be 3 years since we last saw our son. Through all of our grief we can still find comfort looking back on pictures of Caleb in rehab with his big goofy smile. We will forever be grateful for the experiences we had at St. Jude and think of all of Caleb’s therapists often. We are just so incredibly in awe of everyone in the rehab field that can bring just joy in an incredibly dark time.

- Lauren Shaffer

Warner Wood had battled back to back ear infections that would not go away after several rounds of antibiotics. Thanksgiving week of 2014 he was referred to St. Jude for what the Pediatrician hoped was a nasty viral infection to be diagnosed with ALL (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia) at the age of 2 years old. He endured 2.5 years of Chemo leaving him unable to walk at times.

Per his last Warner’s Warrior Day St. Jude fundraiser flier: Warner had to have 1246 doses of chemo, 6 inpatient stays, 443 steroid doses, 175 needle sticks, 2 port surgeries, 27 lumbar punctures, 147 physical & feeding therapies, lost his hair 3 different times and his parents will spend the rest of their lives raising funds for St. Jude as they had to pay $0 to help their child live.

Instead of starting to preschool like other kiddos Warner was fighting for his life and learning to spell names of Chemo drugs. They spent months off and on at St. Jude and lived in Ronald McDonald house when he was immune compromised. Warner is now a healthy 6 year old boy that is getting to run and play in Kindergarten. St. Jude saved his life and he is Cancer free!

- Matt and Brittany Wood

Back in November Elliot who is 2 years old, was diagnosed with Retinoblastoma. Because of this Elliot was sent to St. Jude Hospital in Memphis for further treatment. Unfortunately they were unable to save Elliot’s eye, but were able to determine that the cancer was isolated to just that eye. He has since been fitted for a prosthetic eye at St. Jude. The care and treatment that has been provide to Elliot and his family by St. Jude has been amazing. Did you know that St Jude covers 100% of the cost? What a blessing! So because of that, I am asking for donations for St Jude as I run in honor of Elliot. Any amount will help. If you can’t donate, then share this, maybe you know someone that can. Cancer is a horrible disease, especially when it affects someone know or love. And when it’s a child, it seems to hurt even more.

* 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.

* Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20% to more than 80% since it opened more than 50 years ago. St. Jude is working to drive the overall survival rate for childhood cancer to 90%, and they won’t stop until no child dies from cancer!!

We are happy to report that Elliot is recovering and adjusting to his prosthetic eye really well and has since been receiving further care from St. Jude. He has recently gone back for more examinations to check on the status on the cancer. It has truly been amazing seeing the powerful work St. Jude in Memphis has done for our family and many other families!

- Tracy Mims

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