While thousands will be walking around downtown Honolulu Saturday for the second St. Jude Give thanks. Walk. event, Thaddeus Ordono will be “running all over the place,” he says. As a volunteer with St. Jude, Ordono will help oversee course logistics, coordinate entertainment and set up audio-visual equipment. And that is just on the day of the event; Ordono also has been an integral part of preparing for the walk for weeks.
“This has been a labor of love,” Ordono says. “I just really believe in this mission.”
The walk raises money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which treats children who have been diagnosed with cancer and other life-threatening conditions and aims to find a cure for these illnesses through research. It also has established a program to help children in countries with limited resources.
Honolulu is one of 90 cities throughout the country that will host a walk. Registration is free, but participants are encouraged to raise money for the organization through donations and fundraising efforts. Events like this enable St. Jude to cover the cost of treatment for its patients as well as travel, food and lodging for the patient and a family member.
Ordono first got involved with St. Jude during last year’s inaugural walk after stumbling across a flier seeking volunteers. A contractor who specializes in audio-visual technology, Ordono was in between jobs and determined to spend that time doing things he was passionate about.
“I thought it would be something where I show up and that would be it,” Ordono says, “but it turned into much more than that.”
He was struck by the passion of the other participants – especially the children. He doesn’t have children of his own, but he’s a loving uncle to many nieces and nephews, as well as neighbors’ and friends’ kids. “Hopefully nothing happens to their health. But if something were to happen, I always wanted to make sure that someone would have their back,” Ordono says.
The power of what St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital can do is exemplified by one local volunteer whom Ordono has gotten to know through St. Jude events, a young woman who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia when she was a senior in high school. After being admitted to St. Jude in a critical state, she received treatment and entered remission after a tough battle. She went on to graduate at the top of her class, then attended college and law school. Today, she is an attorney at a firm in Honolulu.
The St. Jude Give thanks. Walk. takes place Saturday (Nov. 17) at Magic Island. Registration begins at 7 a.m., and the walk starts at 8. For more information, visit givethankswalk.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To register, visit fundraising.stjude.org/site/TR?fr_id=3707&pg=entry. Participants also can sign up on the day of the event.