Each day, cartoonists lift the spirits of children through humor, imagination and illustration. This May, over two dozen of the nation's top cartoonists will join forces to make an even more substantial impact — by raising funds and visiting with the patients of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis.
Steve McGarry (Biographic, Badlands), Jeff Keane of Family Circus creator and Simpsons cartoonist Bill Morrison are among the guests already scheduled for this year's charitable dinner and auction, which will be held on May 26 at the Domino Event Center. The event will coincide with the National Cartoonist Society's annual convention and awards banquet, which will also take place that weekend in Memphis.
“We have invited the artists who are attending the NCS conference to sit down with patient families and draw works for them to take home with the hopes that the experience brings them some joy despite their very difficult circumstances,” said McGarry, who leads the organization's charitable arm, the National Cartoonist Society Foundation. “We did something similar on a smaller scale last year and the families loved it, as did our group.”
McGarry said the 2015 visit to St. Jude, which also included Arlo and Janis cartoonist Jimmy Johnson and Big Nate cartoonist Lincoln Peirce, among others, helped set the stage for this year's fundraiser. The event will include a dinner, cocktails with cartoonists, and live and silent auctions. A St. Jude patient family will speak, and the cartoonists will provide entertainment by participating in an improv art event.
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is a leader in pediatric cancer research and treatments of other diseases, with affiliate clinics across the country. Since the hospital opened in 1962, treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20 percent to 80 percent. Because patient families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food, charitable events like the fundraiser hosted by NCS are especially important.
If last year's visit to St. Jude is any indication, the May event will bring smiles for everyone. "It was such a rewarding experience, I think we got more out of it than the kids did," he said in a front-page article yesterday in the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
Image captions (from top): artwork by Jeff Keane, Steve McGarry with patient Tyler, Lincoln Peirce with patient Andrew, Jimmy Johnson with patient Isaias. All images courtesy of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital