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Mary Jo's Mission, Raising Money for St. Jude

Mary Jo

Nashville, TN - We get inspiration from a little girl who made it her life's mission to raise money for St. Jude.

Mary Jo Dietsch spent the majority of her life as a patient there and took it upon herself to fund the hospital for one whole day.

She died before reaching her goal.

But Mary Jo's mission is still very much alive.

At 5 years old, she suddenly found herself battling a fatal brain tumor.

Her father, Dan Dietsch says, "The technician comes out and hands you an envelope and says, 'It's time to go see your pediatrician. They're waiting for you."

It's a nightmare she and her family lived through twice.

In 2001, Mary Jo had her first diagnosis with cranial fringioma.

The tumor in her little head measured the size of a softball.

That was the beginning of the baby girl's battle with cancer which brought the Dietsch family to St. Jude, desperate for help from an oncologist using a new protocol against this type of tumor.

After about 2 and a half years of radiation and treatments, the tumor that had engulfed Mary Jo's brain started to shrink.

Mary Jo would survive this battle and stay in remission for almost seven years.

Dan Dietsch says that's when her headaches started coming back.

The tumor had reappeared, found just before her 13th birthday, and shifted into a tricky place for doctors to see and treat.

Chemotherapy treatments left Mary Jo blind her last six months of life.

In January 2010, Dan Deitsch and his wife lost their daughter at just 15-years old.

When she died, Mary Jo was in the middle of a self-led million dollar fundraising campaign for the hospital that had already saved her life once.

Seven fundraiser golf tournaments were hosted while she was alive.

They were Mary Jo's favorite event, raising more than a half million dollars.

She attended all but the last one.

Dan says, "It meant so much to her to raise money for these other kids and for this hospital. She didn't make it to that tournament.. And she didn't make it to any more."

Dan dietch has taken up his daughter's torch.

It's tough for Dietsch to keep talking about his family's battle with cancer-- reliving the memories of Mary Jo's pain and fears.

But he says he can't walk away from Mary Jo's mission, continuing to raise money for the hospital that bought him time.

Dan Dietsch has raised an additional million dollars plus since Mary Jo's death.

To date, Mary Jo's mission has raised $1.6-million dollars for St. Jude.

Mary Jo would have turned 21 last month.

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To help raise money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Fox 17 is giving away a half million dollar home in Franklin.

It's open for you to tour Wednesday through Saturday.

Your $100 dollar ticket will get you in the running for the home and other prizes for the big give away live on fox 17 this Sunday at 6 pm.

All proceeds go to St. Jude.

If you go to fox17.com and click on "community" at the top right, you can learn more about the St. Jude dream home and find a link to buy your ticket tonight.

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