Donald Pinkel, St. Jude’s first director and CEO, and pioneer in the treatment of childhood leukemia, was awarded the Charles F. Kettering Prize in 1986. Below are his acceptance remarks, digitized and reproduced from his personal archive. A second more scientific presentation from June 6, 1986 is available here.

In accepting the Kettering Award I wish to express my deep gratitude to the General Motors Cancer Research Foundation and its committees for this generous gift and the recognition it expresses. But equally I wish to acknowledge those who are responsible for the achievements on which this award is based.

  • The supporters of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, particularly the American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities led by Danny Thomas, and the National Cancer Institute with its series of leaders from Kenny Endicott through Dick Rauscher to Vince DeVita.
  • The staff and employees of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, especially Joe Simone, John Aur, Omar Hustu, Luis Borella and Allan Granoff. They did the work for which I receive credit.
  • Most of all, the children with leukemia and their families who have participated in our studies over the decades. Not only do they teach us about leukemia and its treatment but they give us lessons in courage, faith, trust, honesty, patience and perseverance.

I also wish to take the opportunity of this gathering to plead for nutrition and health care services to children. An increasing proportion of American children are being raised in poverty without adequate provision for their nutrition and health care. It is popular to say that people should not bear children if they cannot provide for them. But no child asks to be born and no one chooses his parents. Infants and children cannot be held accountable for the poverty or improvidence of their parents. Their health should not be penalized for it.

Despite the surplus of health care facilities and personnel in the United States and the surplus of food, nutritional and health services to children are inadequate. Leaders in business and government as well as in the health care professions need to realize that our future society can only be as healthy as the children of today. There needs to be renewed enthusiasm and determination to extend nutrition and health services to all children in need, regardless of the socio-economic, ethnic, geographic or immigration status of their parents. After all, all children are the children of all of us!

Thank you.