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Magic Right Word for this Godmother

This is a nice story. It’s about Lindsey Wilkerson. Until yesterday, we had no idea who Lindsey Wilkerson was, or is. Until today, you probably didn’t either. She is going to be the Godmother of Carnival’s Magic at its ceremonial baptism in Venice, three weeks from Sunday.

She has a greater calling in life. A cancer survivor from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, she shares her story as part of her job at the hospital built by the late Danny Thomas. Two years ago, we were at St. Jude, not for the reason most people go there, but as tourists who remembered Danny Thomas, and the TV show that made him famous, to visit his museum.

Carnival pledged to raise $3 million in three years for St. Jude. At last glance, the project has raised $570,000 in Year One, through a variety of programs, on ships and off. On May 1, in honor of the Magic’s Godmother, Carnival will kick in another $50,000.

The story of why Danny Thomas built this hospital (click here to read our blog about it) is a moving one.

So is Lindsey Wilkerson’s.

Diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 10, she underwent three years of intensive chemotherapy. Many of her little colleagues didn’t make it, but she did. She graduated from high school, after thinking she would not. Seven years ago, she became a bride, after thinking she would not. And five years ago, she became a mother, after thinking she would not.

Next month, she becomes a Godmother.

“I am alive today because of the world-class research and treatment at St. Jude,” she said in a statement. “The generous support of Carnival and its guests will help St. Jude continue to provide hope to children stricken with catastrophic illnesses.”

Nice Godmother. Nice ship. Nice story.

Amos Yakhoob, St. Jude and Carnival

You remember Amos Yakhoob, don’t you? The only and only Amos Alphonsus Muzyad Yakhoob? He had another name, which you may have gathered by now, and which we discovered last year when visiting Memphis.

Danny Thomas, of course. Father of Marlo, if you’re too young to remember.

Thomas was his older brother, Danny was his younger bro and if you thinks it’s strange that parents would have sons named Thomas, Danny and Amos Alphonsus Muzyad, join the club. But they did and the one who adopted his brother’s monickers for show business became one of the most popular entertainers of all time.

Better than that, he became the founder of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. There’s a story here, but first the reason why it even comes up in a cruise blog. Carnival cruises are partway through the first year of a three-year fundraising campaign which the cruise line has pledged $3 million for St. Jude’s, a research facility that specializes in child cancer.

Passengers on all Carnival cruises have the chance to participate in themed fundraising activities at sea. Fun, games, cancer awareness and surprises, under the banner of “Care To Play.” The Carnival-St. Jude partnership began in 2009 with a $50,000 donation.

Now, the story.

We were in Memphis last November. On a city tour, we stopped at the Danny and Rose Marie Memorial Gardens, which included the library (right) which is somewhat under-stated, as these things go, and naturally it tell their story and the connection to St. Jude. We might have surmised they had lost a child to cancer, but they didn’t.

Instead, the young Lebanese entertainer from Michigan was at an early crossroads in his career, when he knelt in front of a statue of St. Jude, the patron saint of hopeless causes. With Marlo soon to be born, he wanted a sign — show business or not — and he promised to erect a shrine to St. Jude.

The sign came and, until the day he died in 1991, Danny Thomas never forgot — a few days before his death, he filmed a St. Jude commercial. And, frankly, cruise lines like Carnival are among the many business committed to seeing that he, too, will never be forgotten.

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