Chip and Joanna Gaines Present $1.5 Million Donation and Build a Playhouse for St. Jude
Chip and Joanna Gaines have put their money where their mouth is.
On Wednesday, June 19, the couple traveled to Memphis, Tennessee, to present St. Jude Children's Hospital with a check for $1.5 million and gift the St. Jude Target House with a new permanent playhouse they designed.
During the event, the Fixer Upper stars, who are launching their own cable network in 2020, sported bumblebee headbands while greeting the kids, playing the piano, singing songs and hosting a story time reading of Joanna's children's book, We Are the Gardeners.
"As we walked in today, a little boy told us that he's ‘demo day-ing' his cancer treatment and that's pretty much the best thing I've ever heard. In our world, demo day marks the end of one chapter and the beginning of a newer, more exciting one," Chip said at the event. "And that's exactly what we want for you — we're pulling for each and every one of you."
Joanna said that in addition to the donations, which they raised through a social media campaign, #ChipInChallenge, with the help of friends like Jennifer Lopez, Alex Rodriguez, Kacey Musgraves and more, they wanted to design something personal for the families at the St. Jude Target House, where the families of kids being treated at the hospital can stay free of charge.
"When we heard that the space outside of Target House could use a little love, we knew right away that we wanted to create a sweet playhouse for the kids to enjoy," Joanna said. "There's something so special about spending time together outside and while we're hopeful that these families will not have to stay here for very long, we wanted to create a retreat for them to explore while they are here."
The playhouse sits behind an archway covered in flowers, and features a small table with plastic food, and a pretend kitchen where kids can play chef.
"When we were designing this playhouse, we knew we wanted it to feel whimsical and fun — that was the inspiration behind details like the colorful flowers in the flower boxes and the sweet kitchen area," Joanna said. "Our hope is that this space brings a bit of joy to the families here."
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"Target does so many incredible things for families at St. Jude, from providing a home-away-from home at Target House to delivering amazing events and surprises all year that let kids just be kids," said Richard Shadyac Jr., president and CEO of ALSAC the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. "To see their faces light up as they challenge their friends to a game of lawn bowling or explore the new playhouse designed by the incredible Chip and Joanna Gaines—it's truly unforgettable, and we're all so grateful."
In 2017, the HGTV stars traveled to Memphis and unveiled their redesign of the dining room at the St. Jude Target House, which they created using pieces from their Hearth & Hand with Magnolia collection. That same year, Chip vowed to shave his head on-site at St. Jude if fans were able to help him raise $25,000 in under a week. They surpassed the goal and then some, raising $230,000 for the charity — and Chip held up his end of the bargain.
This year, Chip set a goal to raise $230,000 for the children's hospital, but when his friend and marathon trainer Gabriele "Gabe" Grunewald, who suffered from a rare salivary gland cancer, entered end of life care during the fundraising period, he raised the goal to $500,000 and vowed to match all donations to St. Jude and the Brave Like Gabe Foundation. Grunewald passed away the following day.
"More than 10 years ago, my friend @gigrunewald was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of cancer. I understand that Gabe is not a patient at @StJude, but right now, she is fighting for her life," the HGTV star wrote on Instagram at the time.
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"Cancer is ugly and it is mean and it doesn't fight fair. This has gotten extremely personal."
The Gaineses surpassed their $500,000 goal, and ultimately presented a donation of $1.5 million to St. Jude. The money will ensure that families of children with cancer never receive a bill from them for treatment, travel, housing or food.