(Photos Courtesy St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital)


Dear Diary,


Recently, I attended St. Jude’s Radio Cares Seminar—an event that brings together radio professionals from more than 30 markets representing formats from urban gospel to classic rock.  The on-air personalities visit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and witness the impact they’re having on the lives of patients when they raise money and raise awareness with radiothons.  This year, the hospital extended an invitation to Black and Married With Kids, and I was asked to cover the event.


A couple of weeks after accepting the assignment, I flew to Tennessee to tour the hospital, which provides FREE medical services to the world’s sickest kids.  It also leads the way in research for sickle cell anemia—a blood disease that strikes one in every 400 African-American infants.  That’s one reason why more Black celebrities are being urged to support St. Jude’s.  Leading the way in recruiting spokespersons is Memphis native and amazing actress Elise Neal.  She attended this weekend’s seminar and convinced fellow thespian Lance Gross to fly in as well, which brings me back to the title of this article and why I love Lance.

#5 He isn’t Arrogant


In fact, he comes across as somewhat shy.  He didn’t act irritated when I asked him to go outside for a photo op, since the indoor light wasn’t the most flattering.   Lance answered every interview question with enthusiasm and put the kids, not his agenda, first.


#4 He’s incognito.  


He wore a sweater and a baseball cap, covering his handsome head and keeping everyone’s attention on the charity.  When he was recognized during the opening statements at a luncheon, he flashed a nervous smile and seemed a bit uncomfortable receiving recognition.


#3 We had a moment. 


Lance is locking eyes with me in this picture.  Ok, it may be in my head, since there were several other people beyond the camera’s frame.


#2 Lance loves the kids. 


Before visiting the hospital he hosted a patient at Tyler Perry’s studio and introduced her to the entire cast of the hit television show House of Pain.

He told me, “Every kid is smiling.  Every child is in a good mood, despite being sick.  They are hopeful.  That humbles you.”

#1 And the number one reason I fell in love with Lance Gross…


He’s a St. Jude’s supporter.  He took time out of his hectic schedule to visit the children’s research hospital and show his support.  When he toured the facility and played with the patients, he didn’t invite the media along.  We actually met him on his way to catch his flight home.   He talked about the mother he met with three children with cancer.  He told us he was surprised to hear that St. Jude’s took the weight of the medical bills off the family’s shoulders.  The hospital pays for everything, including shelter at the Target House, where Lance and I met.  Before lance left, he told me, “I didn’t know St. Jude’s took care of so much.  I have to get the word out to my celebrity friends.  If they came here, they would become supporters.”


You don’t have to be in Lance’s celebrity circle or even in love with him to help out.  You can become a partner in hope donating just $19 a month.








About The Author

Vlog Mom/DFTM Creator

Not long ago, Heather Hopson hosted a television show in the Cayman Islands. Today, she's back home writing a different kind of story as a new mom. In her 15 years working as a professional journalist, this by far is her best assignment! Growing up, she dreamed of becoming Oprah Winfrey. She was the features editor for her school’s newspaper and a teen talk show host for her city’s most popular radio station. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Michigan State University. After graduation, she worked as a television producer and reporter at CBS, NBC and Fox affiliates throughout the U.S. Instead of heading to Chicago to join Ms. Winfrey on her set, she bought a plane ticket to the Cayman Islands instead. She arrived five days before a category five hurricane! She lived in paradise for seven years, hosted an award-winning television show and traveled the globe with a government delegation. She also served on the board of directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters and spearheaded a Send a Kid to Camp campaign. Then, she relocated to Washington, D.C. to obtain a teaching certification and instruct 8th grade reading at a high needs middle school. She later returned to her hometown of Pittsburgh, PA to raise her daughter Caitlynn, now 4-years-old. During her 10-month-stint as a stay-at-home mom, Caitlynn inspired her to create this blog, and Diary of a First Time Mom was born on Mother’s Day 2012. Two years later, she expanded the family to include 20+ writers. Currently, Heather serves as the communications director at Allies for Children. In addition, she is the owner of Motor Mouth Multimedia, which ranked #49 in Startup Nation’s Home-Based 100 Competition sponsored by Discover Card and Sam’s Club. Recently, The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments selected Heather to receive an Emerging Black Artist award to develop Diary of a First Time Mom.

15 Responses

  1. Notorious Spinks

    I’m a Memphian and I love St. Jude. Their work is so impressive and no one gets turned away. It’s one of the reasons I Memphis. Also, I didn’t know about this…I’ll have to reach out and get on their media list. Glad you got an opportunity to experience Memphis and one of our many gems.

  2. cocoamommy

    Wow, I’m impressed that outside of the celebrity persona he’s REAL, compassionate and caring. I’m a new fan. St. Jude’s is definitely a great cause and this was a terrific and informative post, I had no idea how involved they were with sickle cell anemia.

  3. Amiyrah

    I’ve always been a fan of St. Jude and I love that celebrities like Lance are paying attention to what they are able to do for sick children. I also love how humble he was! Hopefully he can get more of his celebrity friends to help.

  4. T. Espi

    You had me at Lance Gross LOL. I loved him for *ahem* other reasons before I read this, but this only makes me love him more. Compassion and caring is sexy!

  5. Uneeka Jay

    How cool is it that he is so humble? I love when the opportunity comes to meet someone who is famous and they are nice.

  6. Aja

    The only reason I need is 1) Lance Gross.

    But I’ll take the other five as a bonus 🙂 Great post!

  7. DjRelat7

    Reading pieces like this warms my heart and makes me believe one day stories like this is all we’ll hear about on the news! St. Jude is a great charity to be involved in!

  8. Caroll

    Heather, this is a great story. Love the added info about Lance Gross and love the info on the charity and St. Jude. Feell good story all around.

  9. Nae

    Love when a man’s character is just as attractive (if not more) than his physical characteristics 😉

  10. Christine

    I really love to hear stories like this. I really admire what St.Jude does and this definitely makes me want to become a financial supporter of them. Thanks for sharing Lance…ahem…I mean, the story of St.Jude with us 😉


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