By Maecy Rayborn
Each year, the Tri Delta sorority has its new member retreat to visit patients at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, the sorority’s philanthropy.
Tri Delta also is collectively the biggest donor to St. Jude.
Addie Paige Pratt, a Tri Delta and a cancer survivor herself, was treated at St. Jude for acute myeloid leukemia.
“It was really cool to have this full-circle moment where me and my new sisters were visiting patients and I could see it from a fundraising side of things, instead of a patient,” Pratt said.
Tri Delta works closely with St. Jude by having fundraisers throughout the year for these patients and their families.
“The most memorable moment for me was honestly when we first got to the campus,” Pratt said. “I remember just looking around at my new sisters and seeing the looks on their faces. Everyone was in awe of St. Jude because it doesn’t look anything like other hospitals. It is colorful and bright, like the Disneyland of all hospitals.”
Pratt, who is five years cancer-free, describes St. Jude as a place that is comforting, despite the worst of the worst diagnoses of children taking place there.
“The biggest takeaway from the new member retreat was definitely that it doesn’t take a lot to make a big difference and it takes small acts of kindness to make a huge impact,” she said. “One of the things we did was cut up tiny bits of confetti that would be used for ‘no more chemo parties,’ and the patients are surrounded by their care teams, nurses, and families and they sing a song to the patient after they finish chemotherapy for the last time and they throw confetti on them.
“I remember thinking at that moment about my ‘no more chemo’ party and how much that meant to me, and it really sunk in that it really felt like such a small act to cut up papers that it means the world to the patients and the families.”
McKenzie Darnell is an Ole Miss Tri Delta alumnus who went on the retreat in 2015.
“I was fortunately in a pledge class that had four trips to St. Jude,” she said, “and I loved getting to see around the hospital and see what Tri Delta’s fundraising contributed to. And it was awesome because our pledge class would be split up into groups that were random and based on our last names. So I got to meet other girls in my pledge class through our philanthropy that I wouldn’t have known without these visits to the hospital.”
Darnell said one of the most memorable moments came “when we got to see Tri Delta Place. You have to wait until your senior year to visit the part of the hospital called Tri Delta place, and seeing where the families basically lived for weeks or months or even years at a time while their child was receiving treatment at the hospital just really touched me and reminded me how blessed I am to be a part of a community that helps make St. Jude make a difference in these children’s lives.”