Man From Mars Productions
in Connecticut meant the Danny Thomas Teenage March Against
Leukemia for five years during the 1960s.
May 19, 1963, the first of four annual fund raising campaigns was
sponsored by WDRC in Hartford. Teenage fans of the Big
D spent a Sunday going door-to-door asking for donations for
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, a charity founded
by the late comedian and TV star. The WDRC Friendly Five
(in 1963) and, later, the Swinging Six deejays were on hand
broadcasting live as thousands of sets of feet set off on their
here to read Danny's 1963 thank-you letter.
the four years of WDRC's involvement, more than $225,000
was collected - the highest per capita of any city in the United
States at the time.
the 1940s, Danny Thomas, then a struggling young entertainer with
a baby on the way, visited a Detroit church and was so moved during
the Mass, he placed his last $7 in the collection box. When he realized
what he’d done, Danny Thomas prayed for a way to pay the looming
hospital bills. The next day, he was offered a small part that would
pay 10 times the amount he’d given to the church.
years later, he prayed to St. Jude Thaddeus, the patron saint of
hopeless causes, asking the saint to “help me find my way in
life, and I will build you a shrine.”
Danny's career took off he made good on his promise, making plans
during the 1950s for a unique research hospital devoted to curing
catastrophic diseases in children. Faced with the need for funds
for St. Jude's ongoing operation, Thomas turned to his fellow Americans
of Arabic-speaking heritage. In 1957 they formed ALSAC®,
the American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities.
WDRC was so committed to the St. Jude's cause that weeks before
the 1964 Teenage March, Earwitness newsman Aaron
Shepard flew to the Tennessee hospital for a series of special
reports. His moving account of what he saw appeared in the station's
regular Hartford Courant column on April 26 (below right).
in the Hartford march were always rewarded with a concert. Following
the second annual Teenage March Against Leukemia on Sunday,
May 3, 1964. Danny Thomas and singer Bobby Rydell staged two Big
D Big Shows at the Bushnell Auditorium on May 31st to thank
the 4,000 teens who collected $60,097.81.
third annual March Against Leukemia was held Sunday, May
16, 1965. That year there were marches in Hartford and Middletown.
Robinson broadcast live from the lobby of Hartford National
Bank & Trust at Constitution Plaza, interviewing teenagers who were
out collecting for ALSAC. The teens who raised the most money were
treated to the Chubby Checker "All-Star Show" on June
(L-r:) May 29, 1964 - WDRC news director Joe
account representative Mike Dreschler and Danny Thomas.
Doing 'Round Connecticut column - June 20, 1966
fourth annual Big D Danny Thomas Teenage March Against
Leukemia took place on Sunday, May 15th, 1966. The marchers
collected $65,000. To thank central Connecticut for its continued
support, Thomas headlined a show for the top 3,000 money raisers
at the Bushnell on Tuesday, June 14th.
unclear why, but WDRC did not promote the fifth Annual Danny
Thomas March Against Leukemia. Arch-rival
WPOP sponsored the event in 1967 & 1968.
But WDRC promoted the Danny Thomas Teenager's Marches on
Sunday, May 25, 1969 and Sunday, May 24, 1970.
Danny & Marlo Thomas
died in 1991 but his children, including actress Marlo Thomas, continue
more information on St. Jude Hospital click
In the summer of 1997,
as WDRC FM prepared for its 35th celebration of being a rock station,
the Danny Thomas audio was pulled out of the archives for this promo
voice by legendary New York talent Dan Ingram.
The Hartford Courant - May 22, 1963
Broadcasting Magazine - July 8, 1963
The Hartford Courant - May 12, 1964