St. Jude patient passes life lessons to children he coaches - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

St. Jude patient passes life lessons to children he coaches

Jimmy Parker (Source: WMC Action News 5) Jimmy Parker (Source: WMC Action News 5)
(Source: St. Jude Children's Research Hospital) (Source: St. Jude Children's Research Hospital)

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is a beacon of hope in Downtown Memphis. 

That hope is realized in the millions of survivors living and working in the world today, all because of St. Jude.

"It was forty years ago since I was diagnosed. So between God and St Jude, they gave me forty years," Jimmy Parker said.

Parker is the softball coach at Harrison Central High School in Gulfport, Mississippi. He said in the forty years since St. Jude saved his life, he has thought about how lucky he is every single day.

Click here to learn more about St. Jude and the 2016 Dream Home.

Fighting cancer as a teen was a life lesson he said made him a better coach.

"I feel like I was left here to give back to these kids," Parker said. "Believe me, they bless me more than I bless them."

He counts those blessings every day.

Parker has made a life for himself he thought might never be possible. In addition to being a championship coach, he's also a husband and a father.

"I don't know where I'd be today if not for the cancer; where my life would be," Parker said. "It has guided me in a certain direction--with my faith, my wife."

Parker said he learned to count his blessings early in life. He was only thirteen when he was diagnosed with cancer.

"It was scary. I didn't quite understand everything at the beginning."

That diagnosis came only a few short years after entertainer, Danny Thomas, opened St Jude Children's Hospital in 1962.

"Back when I started at St. Jude it was a small place with a dirt parking lot. Now it's two city blocks."

Parker was diagnosed with Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

When he was diagnosed in 1966, that type of cancer in a child was basically a death sentence--only four percent of the children diagnosed with ALL survived.

"I was angry," Parker said. "I felt a little cheated. I think that's where I learned how to fight."

It's that lesson that he makes sure to share with his team.

"I don't like the words 'I can't.' Never quit," Park said. "I carry that into my coaching. You just have to push forward."

You can ensure TODAY'S patients have long success stories like Coach Parker. Just reserve your ticket for the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway.

Call 1-800-224-6681 to reserve your ticket now!

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