Lucy Hale, Kellie Pickler, Sara Evans and Scotty McCreery were among the country stars who gathered with more than 1,000 country music industry leaders in Memphis January 16-19 to kick off the 25th Anniversary of the Country Cares for St. Jude Kids program to support the work of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
The annual seminar event, started by Alabama’s Randy Owen, is one of country music’s largest gatherings. In addition to raising awareness and funds for St. Jude, the seminar also gives St. Jude patients the chance to visit with some of their favorite artists and celebrate them along with radio partners who together have raised more than $500 million for the hospital.
“It’s inspiring to think about the major impact the country music industry has had on St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and I am so grateful to all of the men and women in country radio and fellow artists and friends in the country music industry who lend their support for this organization that I hold so dearly,” Randy Owen said. “The turnout for this event is further evidence of the country music industry’s continued commitment and support of the research, treatments and cures provided by this amazing place that has saved the lives of countless children from around the world.”
Lucy Hale, a Memphis native, has a personal connection to St. Jude. Her stepsister was a patient at the hospital at just four months old with stage IV neuroblastoma. “They thought she was going to die, but she is 18 years cancer free,” Lucy said. “My stepfather says that the people who work here changed their lives. This place is a Godsend. The people who work here are 100 percent dedicated. This puts things in perspective. I’m leaving here inspired. These kids are so unbelievably strong. It just makes me want to be a better person.”
Kellie Pickler made her first visit to the hospital in 2006 and has made many visits since then, including performing an acoustic concert at a Halloween party. “Being able to come here to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital will change your life,” she said. “It’s amazing. They are saving lives and changing lives. You meet people and build relationships with them and then it becomes a personal thing.It’s just amazing how country music has married itself to St. Jude and these families and helped them have a chance, hope and life.”
“I think St. Jude represents everything that we, as human beings, should be doing for one another,” Sara Evans said. “I love the fact that nobody pays a dime. I love that this is a research hospital and that they are sharing their information with the world. It is just phenomenal that country music radiothons and events have raised $500 million for St. Jude. It feels great to be a part of that.”
Scotty McCreery made his first visit to St. Jude during the Country Cares Seminar. “I was familiar with St. Jude and had been a part of the radiothon, so I had really positive thoughts about visiting here for the first time,” he said. “Then I walked in the door and was blown out of the water. This place is awesome. One of the coolest things was just walking around and seeing all the smiles. It was really uplifting.”