NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — At nine-years-old, Michael Bigley was diagnosed with cancer.

“I didn’t know what leukemia was,” he said. That was in 1994.

His family immediately turned to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“We jumped in the car, and we drove to St. Jude in the middle of the night,” he recalled.

Bigley, originally from Southwest Missouri, still remembers his first day at the hospital.

“This was the place that was going to help me feel better. That’s what I knew the most,” he said.

He underwent two and a half years of chemotherapy to fight his cancer.

“I think for me, I was still a kid, and wanted to have fun, and this is a place that they do everything they can to help you have a little fun and make sure you feel like you are at home,” said Bigley.

While young patients do feel at home at St. Jude, the goal is to get them home.

St. Jude staff celebrate a patient’s last day of chemo with a no more chemo party.

“For me that was June 20th. I think that’s a day that I will always remember, ‘Hey, that was the last chemotherapy treatment.’” He continued, “A celebration for my family to say, ‘We’ve won; we beat cancer.’”

Bigley said St. Jude opened his eyes to a whole new world.

“There’s just so many possibilities. For me this was the furthest I’d ever been from home at nine-year-sold, and so to be here and to be on a campus of so many bright individuals that have been educated and learned how to help the sickest children in the world, I think becomes an inspiration. And not only for me as a child, but also even for so many families that come to St. Jude,” he said.

Michael Bigley, Strategic Partnerships, Director of Employee Engagement at St. Jude (Courtesy of St. Jude)

Bigley’s inspirational and lifesaving experience at St. Jude made him realize he wanted to one day be a part of the team.

He prepared for about ten years to get a position there, even moving to Nashville to gain experience.

“I kind of made my way through the baseball world and the nonprofit world fundraising, and the hard work pays off.”

He has worked at St. Jude for the past four years and is currently the Director of Employee Engagement.

One of the most valued partnerships for anyone at St. Jude is the partnership with communities that support the hospital. One way they do that is through the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway.

$100 ticket gives people the chance to win a home and help kids.

‘Thank you for those that have been supporting and continue to donate their hard earned money to help patients like myself and families who are here right now in some of their darkest days.” He continued, “Every dollar makes a tremendous difference.”

Families never receive a bill from St. Jude thanks to the generous donations. Those funds also go to help with their treatment, travel, food, and housing.

“The burden is kind of lifted off their shoulders. I know for my family, if they would have had to pay for that and have had to figure out how to take care of my treatment, it might have been a different outcome.”

News 2 has partnered with St. Jude for the 2023 St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway. Tickets can be reserved NOW at this link. The giveaway will take place June 25th on News 2.