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Texas Couple Recognized with St. Jude Hero Among Us Award

MEMPHIS, Tenn. , December 02 /Businesswire/ - The 2023 St. Jude Hero Among Us Award was presented to John and Brenda Stephens of Waco, Texas, dedicated champions for St. Jude kids, on the eve of St. Jude Memphis Marathon® Weekend presented by Juice Plus+®. The award is given each year to a St. Jude Hero® individual or pair who demonstrates selfless devotion and outstanding achievements in raising funds and awareness for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here:

The 2023 St. Jude Hero Among Us Award was presented to John and Brenda Stephens of Waco, Texas, dedicated champions for St. Jude kids. (Photo: Business Wire)

The 2023 St. Jude Hero Among Us Award was presented to John and Brenda Stephens of Waco, Texas, dedicated champions for St. Jude kids. (Photo: Business Wire)

The Stephenses were inspired to fundraise for St. Jude after their daughter, Emily, became a St. Jude patient. Emily was diagnosed with a brainstem tumor at age four. When her condition became worse in college, she was referred to St. Jude, where treatments gave Emily an extra five years of life, allowing her to graduate and begin her career before she passed away in 2018.

The couple became St. Jude Heroes in 2018 to honor their daughter’s legacy and support other families whose children are going through treatment and care. St. Jude Heroes fundraise while training to support ongoing work by St. Jude to research and treat catastrophic childhood diseases. The Stephenses have personally raised nearly $84,000 through team Emily Strong and the team of 19 has raised $140,500 over the last five marathons.

“Dedicated efforts from St. Jude Heroes like John and Brenda, for whom this mission is so dear, help doctors and researchers get one step closer to finding cures for childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases,” said Richard C. Shadyac Jr., President and CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. “We are so grateful to team Emily Strong and the more than 1,350 patient families who are participating in St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend this year. It’s an honor to see 20,000 runners and 40,000 spectators gather each year to bring their passion to the St. Jude mission.”

In addition to their efforts as St. Jude Heroes, the Stephenses have served as chairs and active volunteers of events such as the Waco St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway and the St. Jude Nashville Night on the Brazos Gala in Waco.

The couple said they did not consider themselves runners prior to becoming St. Jude Heroes, but they felt inspired to race to honor Emily. When you support St. Jude and Heroes like the Stephens family, you help ensure no family receives a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food — so they can focus on helping their child live.

To help raise funds for St. Jude during St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend, visit

About St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Its purpose is clear: Finding cures. Saving children.® It is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. When St. Jude opened in 1962, childhood cancer was largely considered incurable. Since then, St. Jude has helped push the overall survival rate from 20% to more than 80%, and it won't stop until no child dies from cancer. St. Jude shares the breakthroughs it makes to help doctors and researchers at local hospitals and cancer centers around the world improve the quality of treatment and care for even more children. Because of generous donors, families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food, so they can focus on helping their child live. Visit St. Jude Inspire to discover powerful St. Jude stories of hope, strength, love and kindness. Support the St. Jude mission by donating at, liking St. Jude on Facebook, following St. Jude on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and TikTok, and subscribing to its YouTube channel.

STORY TAGS: Photo/Multimedia, Award, Product/Service, United States, North America, Tennessee, Children, Hospitals, Philanthropy, Other Health, Health, Fund Raising, Consumer, Foundation, Oncology,


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