Gratitude is overflowing from the Simkins family house, in part because the youngest child, Brennan, is celebrating Thanksgiving at home.
Brennan, 10, is one of eight patients from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital featured in commercials that are to air nationwide for the St. Jude Thanks and Giving campaign. The annual fundraiser kicks off Saturday with the St. Jude Give Thanks 5K walk at Lake Olmstead Stadium and similar walks in cities across the country.
The Simkinses were unable to attend the walk last November because Brennan was suddenly hospitalized, but they are participating this year. Brennan received four bone marrow transplants – three of them at St. Jude, in Memphis, Tenn. He has been in remission for acute myeloid leukemia since February 2011.
Beginning Monday, a commercial with Brennan and actor Robin Williams airs on national broadcast and cable television. The 30-second spot was filmed in August at Lucas Studio in San Rafael, Calif.
“If (Brennan) thinks someone else might see his story and realize they might have an option like he did, he wants to share it,” said his mother, Tara Simkins.
The commercial script involves golf – Brennan’s favorite sport and a hobby that boosted his spirit during treatment. It runs through the end of the year.
Earlier this week, Brennan was filmed for a three-minute video that is airing on NBC’s Today Show next week, said Tara Simkins. He also participated in an NBC Sports made-for-TV golf challenge with pro golfers, which should air New Year’s Eve and Day, she said.
Augusta’s St. Jude walk set a goal of surpassing last year’s $16,000 total, said Maria Hultine, St. Jude’s Atlanta region marketing manager. More than 150 people are participating.
“We have four local Augusta St. Jude families that are benefiting from the research at St. Jude’s,” Hultine said.