At a packed news conference leading up to the event, Carnival president Christine Duffy presented a check for $100,000 to St. Jude. This adds to the $16m Carnival has raised during the past eight years toward its commitment of $18m by 2020.
#ChooseFun social media campaign to benefit St. Jude
Duffy also announced that, in conjunction with the line's new brand campaign, 'Choose Fun' bumper stickers will be widely distributed, and for every time someone posts on social media how they #ChooseFun, Carnival will make a donation to St. Jude.
'When I visited St. Jude, I thought it would be sad. It's not,' Duffy said. 'It's a joyful place.'
So if kids in the hospital can be happy, 'Every one of us, when we get out of bed every day can choose fun,' Duffy said.
Victoria, an upbeat 11-year-old from Florida who was treated for a brain tumor three years ago at St. Jude, was on hand at the news event with her parents. She's 'doing great,' and is one of the St. Jude patients who contributed the artwork that's showcased on the monumental 'Dreamscape' installation in Carnival Horizon's atrium.
'St. Jude is a miracle,' Victoria's father said, his voice cracking with emotion. 'You at least feel you can have a little bit of hope.'
Memphis-based St. Jude treats 8,500 children annually and, according to its mandate set 56 years ago upon its founding, no family ever gets a bill. That's so their focus can be on recovery, not worries about money, too.
Surprise appearance by Queen Latifah
Carnival Horizon's godmother, Queen Latifah, the Grammy Award-winning musical artist, actress and St. Jude supporter, made a surprise appearance at the news conference.
'I feel blessed that God made me a godmother,' she said. Latifah is a seasoned cruiser who called cruising 'the coolest thing in the world' and reeled off a stream of reasons why to like it. She's excited to be cracking the champagne for Carnival Horizon, having watched ship christenings 'so many times on movies and TV.'
Being godmother, 'paired with St. Jude, make it a feel-good day,' Latifah summed up.