Internationally recognized for its pioneering research and treatment of children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, is ranked as one of the best pediatric cancer hospitals in the country. The late entertainer Danny Thomas opened the doors to St. Jude’s in 1962, and he began changing lives all over the world. His mantra was, “No child should die in the dawn of life.”
St. Jude was named the number one children’s cancer hospital in the country by U.S. News and World Report. Today, St. Jude’s has a daily operating cost of more than $1.7 million. All medically eligible patients who are accepted for treatment at St. Jude’s are treated without regard to the family’s ability to pay.
To cover operating costs, the hospital conducts many fund-raising events and activities. One of St. Jude’s most recent and successful fund-raising efforts has been the Dream Home Giveaway, which allows contest entrants to reserve tickets for $100 each to qualify to win homes valued up to $720,000. The Dream Home Giveaway, one of the largest national fund-raising programs, is conducted in cities across the United States.
On a visit to St. Jude’s Hospital in Memphis, Bryan and Sylvia McClain of Lafayette had an epiphany. Owners of McClain Homes, LLC, the couple was so overwhelmed by what they saw that they decided to become a part of this great cause for children.
“Bryan was working on a plan for the development of Grande Pointe,” Sylvia says. “He made a personal commitment that if the deal went through, and he was successful with the business venture, that the first item on the agenda would be to donate a really special lot to St. Jude’s Hospital for their Dream Home. The deal was successful, so he called St. Jude’s and offered to donate a lot on the lake behind the clubhouse valued at $77,000.”
A builder who also develops family village-type neighborhoods, Bryan created the beautiful Grand Pointe development in Lafayette. Bryan and Sylvia work together to create living environments that are truly special and unique. Bryan’s enthusiasm for artistic, Old World design has made him one of south Louisiana’s most sought-after builders. Some of his neighborhood developments include Vintage Park, Arbor Trace, Oak Knoll, and Heritage Trace. Sylvia’s love of nature and horticulture plays a key role in their varied projects.
Sylvia recalls, “As we toured this absolutely amazing place and met the families that needed help at St. Jude’s, we fell in love with the staff, and we knew we would return to Lafayette, roll up our sleeves, and work to make this the best Dream Home Giveaway that we were capable of building.” At the end of the day, the McClains had built a home for St. Jude’s valued at $650,000, far beyond the value of the property they had originally donated. “We were honored to be the builders of the Dream Home,” she remarks. “After the donations, the actual cost of the home ended up being only around $125,000.”
“Bryan’s subcontractors and friends who have provided services and materials for McLain Homes over the past 10 years were very supportive,” Sylvia adds. “Many of them had donated to the St. Jude’s Dream Home Giveaway for over 20 years,” she remarks.
“The role of the builder is to build the house, of course, but the hard part is to decide how much you think you can build with as little cost to St. Jude as possible. Our job was to solicit as many donations in labor and materials as possible in order to keep the cost of the home to a minimum so that the majority of the proceeds from the sale of the $100 tickets could go entirely to St. Jude’s.”
People who purchased a $100 ticket during the open house from May 14-June 19 were eligible to win the home. The winner of the $650,000 St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway was announced on KATC-TV in late June.
Sylvia assembled a team of decorators and designers to furnish the home for the open house viewing. These included Monique delaHoussaye Breaux (master suite and library); Jodi Bolgiano (foyer, guest suite, and dining room); Paige Gary (living room and powder room); and Nina Ward of W. Furnishings (upstairs bedrooms and game room). Sylvia was responsible for the kitchen. “We knew that we needed this talented and hard working group,” she notes.
“On a return trip to St. Jude’s Hospital, we invited our friend Monique Breaux to join us,” Sylvia adds. “Monique and her husband, Tim, not only joined the team, but also donated a $10,000 master bedroom suite as a grand prize giveaway to go along with our Dream Home! Monique and Tim shared a unique friendship with Saints player Will Smith, and they were instrumental in helping us plan our first annual Saints for St. Jude fundraiser.”
“As a mother of two boys ages three and 13, my children were born healthy, but I learned through visiting St. Jude’s that this can change,” says Breaux, the award-winning owner of Posh Exclusive Interiors, a full-service design firm with prominent clients throughout the U.S. “I wanted to give my heart and soul to the project. The children there are so much more than just patients. They are living proof of success. They are fighting like little soldiers. St. Jude is a place of strength and energy.”
When designing the master suite, Breaux utilized soft colors and luxurious textures. “Because I donated the master bedroom to a lucky winner who registered for the St. Jude’s giveaway, I wanted the color palette to be sophisticated and simple and appeal to a unisex market,” she points out. “With that in mind, I wanted a soft canvas to work with and furniture silhouettes that were organized and made sense,” she notes. “Because the overall color palette is controlled, texture demanded attention, so I enhanced several focal points with different textures, like glass tile on the bedroom alcove wall. I used the same glass tile in the master bath to serve as the ribbon that would tie these elements together and make the spaces tell a sleek, mid-century modern story.”
Breaux designed the look of the master suite utilizing her program, Buy Posh Rooms. “It is an affordable design delivered to your door and includes the paint color, too!” Buy Posh Rooms was introduced on HGTV and featured in the New York Daily News, among other publications. “It has everything done for you when you purchase the room,” she explains. “Because I now manufacture all of my upholstery and soft goods in the U.S. for this line, it made sense that I tapped into all of my resources to make this space a pleasant ‘dream’ and I topped it all off with accessories from Posh to create the look.”
Breaux met with many visitors when the house was open for viewing. “They all wanted to win the house of course, and the master bedroom as well, but they especially believed in the cause and wanted to contribute to saving children’s lives.”
In addition to building the St. Jude’s Dream Home, the McLains spearheaded a new program, Nails for Hope. “The idea is to assist builders with raising funds to offset the cost of construction,” Sylvia explains. “We are very proud that the program raised over $50,000 for the Dream House Giveaway in the first year. We solicit businesses and individuals to partner with subcontractors and vendors.”
This year, graphic designer and volunteer Cody Musgrove assumed the task of designing a 60-page program that was handed out to everyone who visited the Dream Home. The program provided information about the home, while listing all those who donated and participated. “Cody also donated his time to the event,” Sylvia says. “It has been a great resource guide for our guests, and a special way to entice people to use the participating companies who donated to St. Jude’s. We are looking forward to this serving as a great soliciting instrument as we move forward to next year’s event.”