Memphis has a reputation of being a city full of crime,
hate, and incompetent government institutions. But, contrary to its repute, I
know that Memphis is a city full of kindness.
Kind kahynd adjective
(kinder, kindest) of a good or benevolent disposition, as a person: a kind and
loving person. Kindness kahynd-ness
the state or quality of being kind: I will never forget your kindness.
Sarah Halter and her family were in Memphis, December of
2017, to participate in the St. Jude marathon to raise money for cancer
research. Only, they weren’t just here to fundraise. They were here to run in
honor of their 4 year old daughter and relative, Austyn. Austyn had been
receiving treatment from the hospital but had recently succumbed to her fight
against Leukemia. The night before the race, their vehicle window was smashed
and all belongings were stolen, including shirts made in honor of Austyn. This
might be the end of the story in most places, but not Memphis.
Many people think of cancer as a dark and sad disease. However,
what the people of St. Jude have managed to do by turning that hospital into a
wonderful and happy place is beyond amazing. It has truly earned its title as “the
most wonderful place in the world”. How do you take a hospital that houses some
of the sickest children in the world, that are often going through medical
procedures that have the potential to cost in the hundreds of thousands of
dollars, and not charge those families a
single penny? How do you make that a happy place, full of hope and smiles? You
do it with kindness.
As a young man, Danny Thomas had a simple dream. His dream
was to become an actor. Early in his young career, he struggled. Young Danny
decided to turn to the patron saint of hopeless causes, St. Jude. Praying to St.
Jude, he vowed, “Help me find a way in a life, and I will build you a shrine.”
The rest, as they say, is history. His career flourished, and he fulfilled his
promise to the patron saint. Soon, funds were being raised, and a location was
to be chosen. Memphis, TN became the home and foundation for Danny’s dream.
Growing up in Memphis, in a blue collar family, I often had
vehicles that were less than reliable. There have been more than several
instances in which my car or truck has left me stranded on the side of the road.
Never was there a time that I wasn’t offered help. I’ve been offered a phone to
borrow to call for help, even before it was the standard commodity for everyone.
I’ve been offered a ride to the gas station for fuel and jumper cables for when
I had a dead battery. There’s always been a stranger to stop and ask for help.
The outpouring of support that the Halter family received
that night is one that is worthy of note. Strangers from all over the city
offered their support. Homes were opened for a place to sleep. Donations were
made in Austyn’s name. Funds were offered as a reward for any information
regarding the recovery of their personal items. Donations of running clothes
and shoes were given to the family, so that they might complete the race. They
were given shirts made especially for them, in honor of Austyn, to replace the
ones that were taken. That family will always remember Memphis as the city that
they stayed in while Austyn was receiving care from St. Jude, but now they’ll also
remember Memphis for its kindness and generosity.
Memphis will always be known as city full of crime and
corrupt politicians, but what I know is that Memphis is a city full of