It’s a family story spanning over 6,000 nautical miles, a yellow Labrador named Hank, a few red wagons, and the best values in our area.
CARBONDALE, Dad. – If there is one common thread woven through our territory, it is the strength to stick together and help each other when times get tough.
For Tom Corrigan, it’s those values he never forgot after growing up in Carbondale.
“It’s an interesting feeling, you never forget the hometown you come from,” said Tom Corrigan, a resident of Carbondale.
Tom Corrigan, who has always loved boating with his dog, decided to combine his passion for the open water with fundraising, all to help his five-year-old nephew fight cancer.
Tom’s story is a real page turner with this yellow Labrador Hank as the main character. It’s a journey that started in 2020 and would eventually cover some 6,700 nautical miles.
Tom, who now lives in New Hope, Pennsylvania, started working remotely in finance when the pandemic started and thought, “what better time to make a dream come true?”
“I’ve always wanted to live on the boat,” Tom said.
But he wanted to give meaning to all those miles out to sea. So Tom decided to use his trip to give back to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. The nonprofit has been caring for its now five-year-old nephew Carson ever since the little man, nicknamed “Hambone,” was diagnosed with cancer shortly after his first birthday. Tom turned to social media to spread the word.
“We set up Instagram to spread the word and do what we could for Carson,” said Tom, leading to a breathtaking boat ride followed by thousands online.
“We stopped on average every 40 miles,” said Tom. “We’d try to mark the city and then put up signs on our boat explaining what we found in the city, as well as what St. Jude did for my cousin.”
In return, Tom and his four-legged friend Hank ended up raising over $54,000 for St. Jude’s.
This was a way of giving back after the hospital gave Carson so many life-saving treatments.
“Six of the drugs were used in rhabdomyosarcoma, which he has. But they were never used together. So we took three drugs at a time. And then we went for a week or so, and we took another three drugs. And we’ve got about that. twelve weeks,” said Erin Corrigan, Carson’s mother, who lives in Huntsville, Alabama.
As Carson continues to fight, his Uncle Tommy continues to share his cousin’s story and the highlights of the past year’s journey, which has not always been light-hearted. Like the relentless 3-foot waves on Lake Michigan that Tom and Hank encountered during their journey.
And, of course, that unforgettable reunion last year around this Thanksgiving time, when Tom and Hank visited Carson at his home in Alabama after their own two-week self-quarantine. Tom’s brother Jason remembers that moment:
“Coincidentally, the Tennessee River is only a few miles from our house. So we went down and met him,” said Jason Corrigan, Carson’s father.
It was quite a journey that brought a family from all over the country closer together and showed how the heart of our area never left them.
“You know what? He (Tom) could have just saved a lot of money by just writing a check to St. Jude. But instead he took his time and a lot more money. It cost him. And he went in every port Every marina, every restaurant, wherever he went, he talked to everyone,” said Aunt Pitty, aka Patricia Gonzalez, Tom’s aunt in Churchville, Maryland. “The better part of the world is praying for Carson.”
Tom’s goal is to raise $69,250 for St. Jude’s so that the nonprofit can continue life-saving treatments for other children and buy fun items to help those young people through treatment.
It also aims to help with the nonprofit’s Red Wagon campaign for their little superheroes undergoing treatment.
Fundraising Event Carbondale
Another way the family is trying to reach their goal is with this fundraiser in Carbondale tomorrow, Saturday, November 6.
How you can help and learn more about the Red Wagon campaign
To keep up to date with Tom and Hank, check out their daily diary on Instagram and Tom’s TikTok with some now viral videos. You can find them at @TomAndHankOffTheHook on both platforms, or check out this link to connect with Tom’s blogs and fundraising links.
The following is what Tom said about St. Jude’s Red Wagon Campaign:
“Our goal is to raise enough money to buy every St. Jude superhero a ‘red wagon superhero transporter’. St. Jude has an average of 277 children (aka Superheroes) on campus every day. According to the St. Jude Foundation buys $250 the equivalent of one red car 277 kids x $250 = $69,250 needed At $55k we’re almost there!
These red wagons were the cornerstone of our fundraising. The concept of these red wagons symbolizing a ‘normal’ childhood in the lives of children living very abnormal lives really resonates with me. I personally pulled Carson around the St. Jude campus in Memphis in one of these red wagons shortly after his diagnosis. I refer to these wagons in my Instagram posts as “superhero red wagon transporters” and have set my goal of raising the equivalent of buying ALL 277 average kids on campus one of these every day!
St. Jude’s red wagon brought a sense of normalcy to my cousin’s very abnormal childhood. Imagine my cousin driving through the hospital in a wheelchair. Now imagine being pulled by Uncle Tommy in a red wagon superhero transporter… Sometimes it’s the little things.”