St. Jude launches ‘Week of Hope,’ celebrity chefs go virtual for pediatric cancer families

Updated: May. 20, 2020 at 1:50 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Many events have had to be postponed or canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic and that includes some fundraisers for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Here in the Carolinas, the first-ever digital fundraising campaign is taking place this week.

It’s called “Week of Hope,” and each day is a chance to celebrate, connect and donate toward the mission of St. Jude.

This Wednesday, there will be a live stream from 5-6 p.m. celebrating St. Jude families. Thursday will focus on child life programs at the hospital.

On Friday, local celebrity chefs will prepare dishes online. That includes corporate executive chef with the Compass Group Chris Aquilino whose son Sydney was diagnosed with T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in 2018.

Aquilino says Sydney had to be airlifted to St. Jude and spent four months being treated at the hospital. He says he is left speechless when he thinks about the way the hospital cares and provides for families.

“I can try and put that into words, but there really is no feeling about how much they really have your back in regards to everything,” said Aquilino. “We all hear about how expensive medical care actually is, but if you’re trying to put a personal nurse in an ICU for each patient - imagine the expense of that.”

St. Jude launches “Week of Hope,” celebrity chefs go virtual for pediatric cancer families
St. Jude launches “Week of Hope,” celebrity chefs go virtual for pediatric cancer families(Photo provided to WBTV | Photo provided to WBTV)

Aquilino says in addition to the way the hospital takes care of its patients, but he added what they’re doing at the hospital is impacting pediatric cancer patients around the world.

“They’re sharing the research with everyone else who is in this battle and I think that that’s a really important fact because it’s not just impacting patients and families that are going to St. Jude, it’s all walks of life, all types of cancer and they’re sharing the research,” added Aquilino.

While Sydney is no longer being treated at the main hospital in Memphis, Sydney is continuing treatment and his dad says they are hopeful they will celebrate the end of chemo treatments next year.

In the meantime, you can join Chris Aquilino and other chefs online this Friday at 5 p.m. at Other celebrity chefs include: Elizabeth Falkner, Chris Ivens Brown, Jet Tila, and Norman Van Aken.

“With the idea that St. Jude is not immune to all the economic downturn right now, we need to figure out a way to grab people’s attention and what better way to do that then chefs and friendly faces that they’re used to seeing in their homes on Food Network and day-in and day-out, but also teaching them something that they can do at home very easily,” added Aquilino.

Keep in mind progress on the St. Jude Dream Home continues in Waxhaw & you can get your tickets for your chance to win the home this summer. Stay with WBTV for more on the giveaway.

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