For the last 28 years, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has been bringing together country music artists and radio personalities for one weekend in January.

It all started when entertainer Danny Thomas started the American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities (ALSAC) back in 1957 to raise money to build the hospital. Since then, ALSAC has been the exclusive fund-raising organization for St. Jude.

In 1989, ALSAC and country legend Randy Owen established ‘Country Cares for St. Jude Kids’ in an effort to bring together country music and radio to raise funds by holding yearly radiothons. To date ‘Country Cares’ and the over 300 radio stations have raised more than $600,000,000.00 for St. Jude.

Many country artists have given their names and time over the years with recorded endorsements; visits with patients of the hospital, time spent with country radio stations, and more. Some of those include Randy Owen, Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood, Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, Darius Rucker, Ronnie Dunn, Taylor Swift, Martina McBride, Chris Young, Brad Paisley, and more.

Monk and Brantley Gilbert
Monk and Brantley Gilbert

The ‘Country Cares’ seminar is held in Memphis over the course of 3 days each January. During that time, radio professionals spend time sharing ideas and learning everything possible about the hospital. Then taking this information back to their radio markets and turning that into much needed funds for St. Jude.

For me, it’s been the opportunity of a lifetime. Not only have forged great friendships but I’ve been personally touched by the children of St. Jude and the wonders that go on within its walls.

According to Country Cares’ website, “The daily operating cost for St. Jude is $2 million, which is primarily covered by public contributions. During the past five years, 81 cents of every dollar received has supported the research and treatment at St. Jude.”

This Thursday and Friday, I will travel to Memphis to attend the seminar for the 8th time. Yes, meeting and talking with the country artists is a big plus but my greatest reward is soaking up knowledge about St. Jude. I enjoy learning about medical breakthroughs and hospital procedures. Having the opportunity to hear how other radio personalities successfully run their radiothons, how they get the phones to ring and how they handle their emotions when the microphone is open is a big part of the reason I do it.

Most importantly, I go to hear stories of survival and bravery. That fuels me to do the best I can, to learn all I can and to give it all I have for two days in March during our radiothon and each time someone asks about the St. Jude logo on my shirt, the sticker on my car or the St. Jude bracelet on my arm.

Monk and Scotty McCreery
Monk and Scotty McCreery

If you’d like to become a Partner in Hope for the children of St. Jude, please click here and if you might need so incentive, just take a look at some of these St. Jude stats:

  • Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing and food – because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.
  • The daily operating cost for St. Jude is $2 million, which is primarily covered by individual contributions.
  • Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20 percent to more than 80 percent since it opened in 1962.
  • St. Jude is working to drive the overall survival rate for childhood cancer to 90 percent in the next decade. We won’t stop until no child dies from cancer.
  • St. Jude freely shares the breakthroughs we make, and every child saved at St. Jude means doctors and scientists worldwide can use that knowledge to save thousands more children.
  • Because the majority of St. Jude funding comes from individual contributors, St. Jude has the freedom to focus on what matters most – saving kids regardless of their financial situation.
  • St. Jude was founded by the late entertainer Danny Thomas, who believed that “No child should die in the dawn of life.”
  • St. Jude has helped increase the survival rates for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) from 4% before opening in 1962 to 94% today.
  • St. Jude has treated children from all 50 states and around the world.

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