Chip and Joanna Gaines just made a huge contribution to the fight against cancer. They donated $1.5 million to St. Jude Children’s Hospital, and they designed a new permanent playhouse for St. Jude Target House, where families of long-term patients can stay.
The money came from a fund-raising campaign, #ChipInChallenge, that Chip started. His initial goal was to raise just $230,000, and it’s safe to say that he way outdid himself.
Last Wednesday, the couple traveled to the hospital in Memphis to deliver the check and unveil the new playhouse. The kids were thrilled — and some of them recognized the Fixer Upper stars.
“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,” Chip said, per People.
“In our world, demo day marks the end of one chapter and the beginning of a newer, more exciting one.”
In early June, Chip Gaines started a fund-raising campaign on social media, #ChipInChallenge, to raise money for St. Jude’s Children Hospital.
Chip and Joanna enlisted other A-list pals to help raise funds, like Jennifer Lopez, Alex Rodriguez, Kacey Musgraves, and Drew Barrymore.
The goal was to raise more than $230,000. That’s the amount that Chip raised during his last fund-raising effort for St. Jude in 2017.
This time, they WAY surpassed their goal.
Chip and Joanna traveled to Memphis to present St. Jude with a check for $1.5 million.
They showed up with more than just money, too. They had also designed and created a permanent playhouse for the St. Jude Target House, where long-term patients and their families can stay.
“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.”
Chip and Joanna’s playhouse sits behind a flower-adorned archway. It includes a pretend kitchen and a small table with plastic food.
She explained their idea behind its design:
“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,” she said. “Our hope is that this space brings a bit of joy to the families here.”
Their presence certainly brought some joy of its own. As they entered St. Jude, Chip and Joanna greeted the kids, played piano, and sang songs. They hosted a story time reading of Joanna’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, per People.
“And that’s exactly what we want for you — we’re pulling for each and every one of you.”
This isn’t the only way that Chip has fought against cancer. He was inspired to start his own marathon after befriending a marathon runner, Gabriele “Gabe” Grunewald, who was battling a rare salivary gland cancer.
Gabe entered end-of-life care during the fund-raising period for St. Jude. That prompted Chip to raise the fund-raising goal from $230,000 to $500,000, and he vowed to match all donations to St. Jude and Gabe’s foundation, Brave Like Gabe.
“I understand that Gabe is not a patient at @StJude, but right now, she is fighting for her life. Cancer is ugly and it is mean and it doesn’t fight fair,” he wrote at the time.
Gabe died the following day.
Her husband, Justin, thanked Chip for helping her pass peacefully.
“When @chipgaines made the final push in his #chipinchallenge I could feel your happiness building and could also see that this made you ready to head up to heaven,” Justin wrote in an Instagram post to his wife after her death.
“Chip thanks for helping her to go up so peacefully with no suffering.”
Chip and Joanna also surprised Gabe and Justin by adding some new “extra special finishes” to their house before Gabe returned home for palliative care.