St. Jude’s breakfast dedicated to chapter founder Joe Hyder

St. Jude’s breakfast dedicated to chapter founder Joe Hyder

Members of the local fundraising chapter for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital hold up a $10,000 check after last year’s annual breakfast. This year’s event, held in memory of chapter founder Joseph Hyder, who passed away in January, will take place on Sunday, Sept. 16, at the Club Par-X in Woonsocket. From left, Ron Thifault, Rachel Thifault, Michele Bocchini, Kim Blais, Sandrina Baldelli, Bob Phillips, Romeo Berthiaume, Nancy Phillips, John Powell and Tina Go.

WOONSOCKET – Members of the local St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital fundraising chapter will host their 33rd breakfast this Sunday, Sept. 16, though the annual tradition will be bittersweet without longtime supporter Joseph Hyder to rally for the cause.

Hyder, who passed away in January at the age of 89, founded the chapter in 1962, the same year the hospital opened in Memphis, Tenn., with a policy of never denying a family based on their ability to pay. St. Jude Breakfast Committee Co-Chairman Romeo Berthiaume said that while he never quite knew why Hyder decided to take up the cause, once it started, Hyder’s commitment to St. Jude’s was unwavering and lifelong.

“Joe was quite a character. He was a generous guy, obviously, and gave a lot of time to the cause, especially St. Jude’s. That meant a lot to him,” said Berthiaume.

Hyder, a local radio and TV personality who once hosted shows on WNRI and WOON, devoted much of his life to St. Jude’s fundraising events, which once included a radio-athon. These days, most of the funds come from the annual breakfast at the Club Par-X, 36 Stanley Ave. The breakfast, started in 1986, has continued as a popular staple on the city’s calendar of charity events, raising thousands of dollars every year.

When Hyder’s health began to fail around this time last year, Berthiaume recalled, it was the annual St. Jude’s breakfast that was first on his mind.

“He asked me last year, I think he knew he was failing, that ‘If anything happens to me, you’ll continue this work,’” recalled Berthiaume. “And I said, ‘Joe, you didn’t have to worry.’ And the committee felt the same way.”

That committee includes several members of the city’s nonprofit and civic leadership, including Co-Chairwoman Kimberly Blais and members Ron and Rachel Thifault, Rep. Robert Phillips and his wife, Nancy, John Powell, Michele Bocchini, Tina Go, Sandrina Baldelli, Christine Driscoll, Noel Pincince and Cathy Gagnon.

This year, committee members will dedicate the event to Hyder’s memory and have invited several members of his family to attend, according to Berthiaume. In addition to a cooked-to-order breakfast, the event will include a live and silent auction, 50/50 and grand raffle, along with a souvenir program booklet featuring advertising by local businesses. The booklet alone, said Berthiaume, has already raised $3,000 toward this year’s total.

Parking, as usual, will be available at Woonsocket High School, with shuttle service provided by Valley Transportation. The chapter also accepts private donations and once again looks forward to teaming up with Good Shepherd Catholic School, which hosts an annual change drive to raise funds for the hospital. Last year’s total, including the school donation and breakfast, was $10,000.

“We just want people to know that their efforts are worthwhile and, of course, St. Jude’s is very grateful that we’re still doing this,” said Berthiaume.

And while event participants will certainly miss the energy and commitment of the chapter’s loyal founder, Hyder’s work will live on in the actions of a dedicated committee that shows no sign of slowing down any time soon.

“We want Joe’s work to continue for many years to come,” said Berthiaume.

Tickets for the breakfast are available in advance at WOON, WNRI, Pepin Lumber, Vose True Value Hardware, Bileau’s Flowers, Piette Jewelers, Club Lafayette and Club Par-X or from committee members for $8 and at the door for $10. The event runs from 8 a.m. to noon.