Neil Allen

Memphis, Tenn.




When Allen's nephew, Josiah, was diagnosed with brain cancer at 6 months old, he was admitted to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Over the course of the past three years, St. Jude helped Josiah by covering over two million dollars in medical expenses in addition to providing hope and health for Josiah's future. Without hesitation, Allen set a plan in motion to raise money and awareness for St. Jude by fundraising and participating in the St. Jude Half Marathon. In 2011, Allen singlehandedly raised $9,450, and in 2012, he hopes to far exceed his previous amount.


Danny Thomas, the founder of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, was known for encouraging even small donations. His principle that even small contributions make big differences emphasized that it is more important to have one hundred people each donate one dollar than to have only one person donate one hundred dollars. The idea is to make more people aware of the cause and hopefully encourage more people to contribute to St. Jude, instead of relying heavily on only a few donors. Allen is taking Thomas' advice to heart.



Of his half marathon goal, Allen said, "I'm trying to pay St. Jude back. My main goal is to get a dollar from every person I talk to about St. Jude. Everyone has an extra dollar lying around. That's less than one cup of coffee." He continued, "What I'm trying to do is cause a chain reaction, get more people involved, get that exponential growth."


"It's physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally benefiting to me," Allen said of contributing to St. Jude. "When it's anything for St. Jude, there's no hesitation at all; it's like 'Yeah! I'm doing that!'"


As a health and human performance major, Allen plans to continue his education so that one day he can teach health and human performance at the college level. He said, "I want the chance to effect people's lives doing what I love." Allen also hopes that he will be able to instill the power of giving to his future students.


In addition to teaching, Allen plans to use his spare time to continue giving back to St. Jude and participating in summer mission work.



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