Carnival Cruise Lines, the world’s largest cruise operator, has partnered with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to launch a comprehensive fundraising initiative with a goal of raising $3 million for the organization over the next three years.  St. Jude is one of the world’s premier centers for the research and treatment of pediatric cancer and other catastrophic diseases.

The program, called Care to Play: Carnival For St. Jude Kids, kicks off the week of March 28 aboard all 22 Carnival ships and provides guests an opportunity to participate in fun, interactive activities designed to raise funds and awareness in the fight against childhood cancer.

The new shipboard fundraising effort is the second phase of the Carnival-St. Jude partnership that began late last year with the line’s initial $50,000 donation to St. Jude. Funds were raised through Carnival’s “Virtual Book of Dreams” contest which asked kids to share their dreams for an opportunity to become the cruise industry’s first waterslide godchild.

Care to Play activities include the “Groove for St. Jude,” a fun dance activity held once each cruise that allows guests to make a $10 donation and “groove to the music” in one of the ship’s high-energy dance clubs with sounds provided by the ship’s DJ.  Guests receive a Care to Play T-shirt and wristband and 100 percent of their donation goes directly to St. Jude.

Another component is Carnival’s Teddy Bear Workshop in which children from the line’s Camp Carnival program can build their own cuddly St. Jude keepsake bear.   To show their support, kids can also customize their bear with doctor’s apparel, including scrubs, surgical mask, and a lab coat.  One hundred percent of profits, after all related expenses, benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Additionally, copies of the “The Dream Plucker of Perrysport,” a highly imaginative children’s book based on creative stories and illustrations submitted by Camp Carnival participants, will be sold in the shipboard Camp Carnival facilities for $5.95. One hundred percent of the purchase price of this item will be donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Several hundred copies of the book have also been donated to the hospital.

A number of other fun and exciting activities are planned for the future and will be announced at a later date.

Just in time for Opening Day, Carnival will be auctioning off the baseball bat signed by All-Star third baseman Alex Rodriguez of the World Champion New York Yankees that was used in the Carnival Dream’s naming ceremony in New York.  Those interested in bidding on this one-of-a-kind commemorative item can visit, a special Web site that highlights the Carnival-St. Jude partnership.  One hundred percent of the auction proceeds will benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

The site also includes a two-minute video on Carnival-St. Jude initiatives, a listing of the line’s yearly progress toward its fundraising goal, and a link to St. Jude’s Web site where visitors can donate directly to the organization.

“Carnival Cruise Lines is pleased to launch the Care to Play initiative which provides our guests with a number of wonderful and memorable ways to help some very special children,” said Gerry Cahill, Carnival’s president and CEO. “With a goal of $3 million, these fundraising opportunities will enable our guests to assist St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in their groundbreaking efforts in the fight against childhood cancer,” he added.

“We truly appreciate the commitment of Carnival Cruise Lines to the lifesaving mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital,” said Richard C. Shadyac Jr., CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising organization of St. Jude. “Each dollar raised through the Care to Play campaign will help in our fight to find cures for cancer and other deadly childhood diseases so that children in communities everywhere will have a second chance at life.”