Raymond Zoghby spent nearly four years leading a volunteer effort to have St. Jude Children\’s Research Hospital founder Danny Thomas\’ image placed on a postage stamp.Featuring a new portrait of the entertainer and humanitarian by artist Tim O\’Brien and depicting the renowned Memphis hospital that he founded, the Danny Thomas Forever Stamp went on sale Feb. 19.\”I\’m using the Danny Thomas stamp and I\’m going to use it from now on on everything,\” said Zoghby, a Mobile businessman.\”It\’s a great tribute to a man who gave so much to America. He made everybody laugh and he had a great faith and a great personal desire to help these poor little children.\”Zoghby served for about a decade on the Board of Governors of St. Jude, and chaired the special events committee that erected a statue of Thomas there and pushed hard for the stamp.St. Jude is supported primarily by volunteer contributions.No child is ever turned down for treatment there, Zoghby said, adding that if families can\’t pay, the hospital does so. At any given time, St. Jude is serving about 55 Mobile-area pediatric patients struggling with cancer or other debilitating conditions, he said.
In 1997, Zoghby and others in the local area organized a fund-raising charity for the hospital, named St. Jude by the Bay. Several of the men involved were members of the Lebanese-American Club of Mobile and wanted to assist St. Jude because Thomas was of Lebanese heritage, Zoghby said.When the stamp campaign began, Zoghby was undeterred by predictions that the effort was a long shot, at best.\”I\’ll never forget, the national director of St. Jude told me, \’You\’ll never get that, it\’s too political.\’ If you tell me I can\’t do something I want to do it that much more.\”Those who are chosen to grace U.S. postage are picked by a 14-member stamp selection committee, Zoghby said.In 2008, Zoghby sent a 50-page presentation to the committee that included a 30-minute CD about Thomas, who died in 1991.The next year, Zoghby and others at St. Jude asked national lawmakers to write letters of endorsement. A petition for the stamp garnered about 15,000 signatures.Then, Zoghby said, he would call the leader of the stamp committee every six months.In January, Zoghby said he received word that the stamp was coming.He said of Thomas, \”I wish he were alive today to see how the hospital has grown.\”