1970 was the year ESA met and fell in love with Danny Thomas, the founder of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. At the International Counsel (IC) Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota Danny became an honorary member.
Two short years later, January 1972, the IC Board endorsed St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as ESA’s national philanthropy and pledged to raise ONE MILLION DOLLARS. In an effort to fulfill this pledge ESA’s first Million Dollar Bike Ride was hosted in 1974. This 63 day bike ride was completed by Billye and Royce Peterson. The trip went from Memphis, TN to Los Angeles, CA totaling in a 2,368 mile adventure. The event raised $200,000, a huge step toward the pledge to raise a million dollars. The next post will be from Billye herself, talking about her personal experience of this biking journey.
In 1975, the pledge was officially fulfilled. Jo Isquierdo, IC president at the time, presented Danny Thomas with a symbolic check for one million dollars to go towards St. Jude Research Hospital. ESA had reached its one million dollar goal in less than four years!
Going into the 1978/79 fiscal year, Danny Thomas requested that ESA take on the challenge once again of raising $1 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
At the International Council Convention in Denver, CO the dream had come true.
ESA members filled the stage with money bags, each one symbolizing $1,000 that was raised for the hospital. The bags were put in an empty child’s crib, symbolizing the children that are helped under the care of St. Jude Research Hospital. When the last bag was placed in and the crib had overflowed, President Gennie Haralson from Georgia announced that the total was $1,052,116 and the entire room shook with applause.
This was known as the Golden Jubilee
year. May 6, 1979 was officially declared ESA Day. A rainbow of colors filled the sky throughout the United States and Australia to celebrate the golden achievement during the Golden Jubilee
. Over 2,300 balloons were released simultaneously at 2 p.m. Each balloon carried the ESA message making sure that our story was heard.
The incredible accomplishments of ESA did not stop there, 1979 finished off the historical 70’s with a bang! In Queensland, Australia, Joan Dean of Alpha Delta accepted an award on behalf of ESA from Professor Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. The award was a lithograph by Australian artist Bill Schnabel and was entitled “Nothing Is Impossible,” which included a signature from Neil Armstrong himself. This award was made for those who desire to excel, who are a credit to their profession and to contribute to the growth of a stronger Australia. ESA was the only service club honored at the Sales Congress of 1979.
The 70s deserve a standing novation as we gained and accomplished so much in that decade. Check back in two weeks to ride alongside Billye through her extraordinary journey biking half way across the country.
Written by Audrey Potter