Cedar’s Start with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

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Danny Thomas with Joe Karam pictured together at the Las Vegas Sands Hotel in the 1970’s. The handwritten note reads: “Much Love To My Good Friend, Joe Danny Thomas”

More than 70 years ago, Danny Thomas, then a struggling young entertainer with a baby on the way, visited a Detroit church and was so moved during the Mass, he placed his last $7 in the collection box. When he realized what he’d done, Danny prayed for a way to pay the looming hospital bills. The next day, he was offered a small part that would pay 10 times the amount he’d given to the church. Danny had experienced the power of prayer.

Two years later, Danny had achieved moderate acting success in Detroit, but he was struggling to take his career to the next level. Once again, he turned to the church. Praying to St. Jude Thaddeus, the patron saint of hopeless causes, Danny asked the saint to “help me find my way in life, and I will build you a shrine.” To solve this problem, Danny, of Lebanese descent, turned to his fellow Americans of Arabic-speaking heritage.

Believing deeply that these Americans should, as a group, thank the United States for the gifts of freedom given their parents, Danny also felt the support of St. Jude would be a noble way of honoring his immigrant forefathers who had come to America.

In 1959, the late entertainer Danny Thomas approached Joe Karam to solicit his support in fulfilling this promise because he knew that he was also of Lebanese decent. Joe immediately got involved with St. Jude and starting raising money in Columbus.

After opening the Las Vegas Wendy’s market and growing Cedar through subsequent market acquisitions, Joe and his eldest son David, who by now was running the company, started to raise money for St. Jude at the restaurant level. From that commitment to St. Jude, came the Halloween Treat Book Campaign which were sold in many of the Cedar market every October. These treat books, often highlighting several St. Jude young patients, consisted of 10 Free Jr. Frosty Coupons for $1. The treat book campaign was a successful fundraiser until Cedar switch to the Jr. Frosty Key Tag Campaign in November of 2012.

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