ESA Never Sleeps


“On your mark, get set, go!” shouted Danny Thomas’s to start the first nighttime event of its kind in Indianapolis history. The Light up the Night challenge began as 270 walkers and runners stepped up to the starting line to complete a 5K or 10K for the children of St. Jude. It was a 1990 summer night under the stars with fireworks that truly lit up the night.

After a Celebrity Champagne Breakfast and the conclusion of the 43rd International Convention in Indiana, ESA left ready to help their communities of different shapes and sizes. To some people a community could include 80 paws. To others it could include 20 dogs. It just depends on how you look at it. For a few years in the 90’s, Alpha Omega member, Shair Fuhrer and her fellow ESA members in Alaska helped make dog booties for Iditarod musher Bert Bomhoff. Each member was responsible for making at least 100 dog booties taking about 40 hours of work. To honor the ESA members’ good works, Bert’s sled bag displayed his thanks to “My ESA ladies who make the dog booties.”

As the race completed and fireworks went off to celebrate the New Year, 1991 had a turn of events no one had expected. News quickly spread about the loss of a great ESA honorary member. St. Jude Research Hospital founder Danny Thomas past away.

To commemorate our love for the wonderful Danny Thomas, an event was held in his honor a few months later. ESA members were up bright and early on the Fourth of July in 1991. The sun rose in Salt Lake City and about 300 walkers and runners were ready to take on the 5K for ESA’s Firecracker “5.” Although Danny was not there, ESA members could imagine him grinning with pride as they raised over $86,000 for the children of St. Jude.

1992Radiothon.jpgESA members are always found challenging themselves to do and give more. Tommy Dean Hearne, member of Zeta Rho in Louisiana challenged her 1992 radio-thon to raise more than $35,000 for St. Jude Research Hospital.

February 17 marked the big day.

Calls started rolling in from all over the country and by 7 p.m. they were $1,500 away from making their goal. One call was from a trucker who pulled over to share his story about his own son’s fight with a tragic illness. That call caused a ripple effect that triggered more truckers and listeners to call in. Once 9 p.m. hit and the radio station concluded their broadcast. The Zeta Rho chapter had reached a total of $43,261.27!! 

Although the phones stopped ringing, there is never silence in the ESA community. Summer time hit and the ducks were out; 11,905 in Kansas to be exact. These ducks weren’t coming out to play, they had a mission—to go head-to-head (or beak-to-beak) and race down the Arkansas River in Wichita, KS. These weren’t just your everyday ducks, they were little yellow rubber ones who traveled down the river with minds of their own. Members from all across Kansas participated in their Second Annual duckevent.jpgGreat River City Duck Race. People could adopt a duck for $5 and hope that their duck crossed the finish line first to win one of the nine donated prizes that valued to $26,400.

A roar from the crowd erupted when the winner’s beak pushed its way through to the finish line. The big winner, however, was the Institute of Logopedics, Kansas states’ philanthropic project. A net profit of $45,250 was awarded to them at the end of the event.

Summer was just heating up as busses lined up to take almost 300 walkers, runners and rollerblader’s to Georgia’s Stone Mountain Park on July 7, 1992. The excitement arose and everyone was ready to Walk ‘n Roll! A DJ was there spinning tunes from the ‘50s, hot dogs were sizzling, burgers were grilling, and the corn was boiling. This warm Tuesday evening was a perfect setting for ESA’s annual IC Challenge. To conclude the night’s festivities there was a laser light show against the mountain. The Walk ‘n Roll event had raised more than $73,000 for St. Jude. 

When the summer sun went down, the 1992 fall edition of the Jonquil was released and it announced a new international ESA project. . . Hats for Hope. Headquarters encouraged members to make or gather warm hats for distribution to homeless children. The National Care Connection Project kicked off at the International Convention in July and went through mid-November. The goal was to send hats and other articles of clothing out the week before Thanksgiving in order for them to be given during the special holiday. After giving thanks, they were able to brace the harsh winter conditions with ESA’s love.

ESAPlaque1991.jpgESA finished up 1992 as the most successful year to date. The IC President at the time, Mary K. Frost and a few others went to the ALSAC Convention in Washington, D.C. in October. Terre and Tony Thomas, Danny’s children, presented her with a beautiful plaque that represented ESA yet again being the largest third party contributor to St. Jude by donating $1,677,821 that year.  

Reminisce Danny Thomas’s contributions to ESA in the next blog post in this series. As convention is just around the corner, we will be taking a break from this series until the beginning of August. Check back at that time for out next Glimpse in Time post. 

Written by Audrey Potter
Posted: 7/1/2019 11:00:14 AM by Mackeigan Mackeigan | with 0 comments

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