Being champions for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is in the Haggar family’s genes.
Their relationship with the Memphis hospital began when Joe Haggar Sr., founder of his namesake clothing company, connected with comedian Danny Thomas, founder of St. Jude, over their common Lebanese heritage. Two generations later, Lydia Haggar Novakov, Marian Haggar Bryan, and Joe Haggar III are carrying on the family tradition by spearheading two major fundraisers in the Dallas area. Bryan and Novakov are co-chairing the Evening Under the Stars party, and Haggar is co-chairing the St. Jude Golf Classic.
“Our grandfather embraced Danny’s dream of establishing a hospital for helpless children who didn’t have the funds to get the medical treatment, cures, and attention that they needed,” said Bryan, a Preston Hollow resident. “Our dad, at an early age, was exposed to these two amazing men, and he loved it. He really made the commitment at an early point in his life that that was what he wanted to be involved with and do.”
Much like their father, the Haggar siblings fell in love with everything St. Jude stood for. They have been leading Dallas fundraising efforts for a combined 39 years.
“Once you visit the hospital, and see what is being done for these little kids, you’re hooked,” said Haggar, also a Preston Hollow resident. “My favorite part, without question, is my fabulous memory of walking down the corridor of St. Jude and seeing little kids being treated, and knowing that 50 years ago this wasn’t an option.”
The Haggar family has left a strong footprint at the hospital, seeing it through from a dream to a facility that treats 7,800 patients for free each year.
“They have had such an incredible impact on St. Jude,” said Bonne McCalmont, the hospital’s senior regional events specialist. “The Haggars have opened so many doors for us to start relationships with different people and companies, and have created a lot of opportunities for St. Jude.”
One of those relationships was with the Chili’s restaurant chain, which contributes $5 million a year for the Chili’s Care Center, where bone marrow transplants and research take place.
“St. Jude is the premier research institution for pediatric cancer and other catastrophic diseases,” said Novakov, a resident of the Park Cities. “Every child benefits from the research done there because the information is shared freely. That’s their primary purpose — to eradicate childhood cancer and catastrophic diseases and help every hospital in this country have accessibility to the latest and greatest information.”