A giving spirit

How faith and generosity sustained the Blume family through generations

Within the walls of the St. Jude Affiliate Clinic at Novant Health Hemby Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, Novant Health team members work together to provide remarkable care, along with emotional and spiritual support to children with cancer and blood disorders and their families.

Over the last two decades, the clinic has treated thousands of children, and it’s a beacon of hope that began with a 5-year-old girl named Sherri Blume.

In 1967, Sherri, too, was in the fight of her life, battling a metastasized brain tumor. She was treated at Presbyterian Hospital, where supervisor Emma Gupton and many other nurses welcomed Sherri and her parents, Don and Betty, with open arms. Though Sherri fought courageously, she passed away on Feb. 23 of that year.

For Don and Betty, the experience was devastating, but they remained steadfast in their Christian faith. They knew God had a plan for Sherri and the rest of the Blume family, though they did not yet know what it was. In the meantime, the kindness of the staff at Presbyterian Hospital did not go forgotten, as Sherri’s older brother Steve remembers.  

“We were a family of little means, and Presbyterian Hospital came to our aid,” Steve said. “I know there was no way my parents had the financial wherewithal to pay for all my sister’s bills. Emma Gupton and all of the Presbyterian workers helped my parents through this tragic time in their lives, and my parents never forgot that. The relationship grew over the years, and everyone stayed in touch.”

In 1974, Don opened his own business, Blume Supply Inc., selling construction and industrial supplies. He and Steve worked hard to get the business off the ground, and it worked. The company proved successful, and the Blume family felt blessed.

One year, Don and Betty decided, instead of giving each other Christmas presents, they would share presents with children at Presbyterian Hospital. They reached out to Gupton, and a tradition of giving began. The Blume family began giving presents, paying medical bills and doing anything they could to comfort families in need.

I saw my parents, as they were more financially able, start to give back to the hospital, and it made me want to follow in their footsteps to help any way I could,” Steve said. “I felt it was my responsibility to carry on the legacy, and I have tried to continue to do so ever since.”

In 2001, Presbyterian Hospital dedicated the Blume Pediatric Hematology & Oncology Clinic — today the St. Jude Affiliate Clinic — in honor of the family. With Don and Betty now deceased, Steve has worked to carry on their legacy. He cites their love, hard work and commitment to the cause as a great influence on him.

“My mother was an angel,” Steve said. “She had a glow about her, and children would light up and smile when they saw her. These are the things that need to be continued, even if it’s just through volunteer work and not financially. My parents and I have opened several endowments that continue to help others to this day.”

In recent years, Steve was diagnosed with cancer, and like Sherri, he has received treatment at Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center. Even while in his own battle with cancer, he has maintained his generosity.

Last August, Steve made a gift to Hemby Children’s Hospital to support renovations at the soon-to-be-dedicated “Blume Family Playground.” He hopes and prays that, through example, others may experience the blessing that comes from giving to those in need. And he continues to share stories of Sherri’s impact.

“I remember when I was 12 asking God why he would take my 5-year-old sister at such a young age,” Steve said. “Looking back, I’ve seen all of the good that has come from her passing, and now I understand. I will continue to give as God blesses me to do so, and I encourage others to do the same.”