At the Hope Gala of St. Jude's Hospital and the King Hussein Cancer Center
Washington, DC, US
14 June 2004
It is a great pleasure to be here. I hope that those of you, who were expecting my talented wife, are not too disappointed. I'm happy to acknowledge that she's the star of the family! Rania very much wanted to join you this evening. I bring you her best wishes and support.
It is an honour for me to be asked to say a few words on behalf of St. Jude's and the King Hussein Cancer Centre. I'm usually asked to speak about finding solutions to serious global problems. Tonight, I get to talk about a solution that has already been found – the great work of St. Jude's Hospital, which I know so well through its partnership with the King Hussein Cancer Centre in Jordan.
As most of you know, St. Jude was founded by a remarkable Arab-American, the entertainer Danny Thomas. What he began, and donors and medical professionals built, is now a world-class medical institution. It is respected around the globe for its research focus, its medical breakthroughs and its superb clinical care.
And no poor child has ever been turned away. Within St. Jude's doors, all are equal. St. Jude's believes that every child deserves the best care. And every child receives it.
But St. Jude's does not do its work alone. Our help is needed to reach even more children, and to make even more medical advances. To research rare but critical disorders overlooked by others. And to extend the work of healing to countless other children and families through the hospital's global outreach programme.
I'm very proud that a key part of that outreach is the partnership between St. Jude's and the King Hussein Cancer Centre. Ours is the only cancer facility in the Middle East that treats both adults and children. It is currently led by a Jordanian-American, Dr Samir Khleif, who was loaned to us by the National Institutes of Health to spearhead the drive for excellence. And since talent attracts more talent, Dr Khleif was able to persuade other Jordanian-American experts to join him. Their great skills, along with state-of-the-art facilities, have made the King Hussein Centre a centre of excellence in research and clinical care.
For seven years, St. Jude's has supported the centre’s paediatric oncology. St. Jude's has generously shared research and treatment protocols with our medical professionals. This partnership has meant healing and hope for countless children and their families.
And we are now enlarging the circle of hope by bringing Iraqi and Palestinian children to Jordan to receive the care they desperately need.
The children, of course, are the primary focus. But we cannot forget their families, whose hearts and hopes are also on the line.
As many of you know, the King Hussein Cancer Centre is named for His Late Majesty King Hussein. I have not often spoken about my father's long battle with cancer. We were fortunate to have outstanding medical care, both in Jordan and here. And we were blessed, most of all, by my father's spirit and humanity. To the very end he was confident and positive. I believe he worried more about his family than himself.
This experience is one reason I wanted to be here tonight. I know that many of you have sat by the beds of loved ones or been there for doctors' conferences or waited for that phone call, that next medical report or prayed that research would make a breakthrough in time.
I can only tell you that I know, Rania and I know, the deep emotions of those moments. And I can tell you, that knowing we are all part of a human community of concern, is a very important source of strength.
My father taught his children that when a gift is given, a gift must be passed along. We who have experienced that community of concern now have a chance to reach out to others.
Your support for St. Jude's is a vote on behalf of humanity and hope – hope that all our children, wherever they're from, will have the right to happy, healthy, constructive, dignified lives.
Danny Thomas once said that success isn't what you gain in life or accomplish for yourself, it's what you do for others. Thank you for doing all you can ... for St. Jude's Hospital, for the King Hussein Cancer Centre and for the world's children.