Randy Owen co-founded Country Cares at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital over 30 years ago, and he's not leaving. But he's realistic about the future and understands it's soon going to be time for someone else to step up.

Several years ago, the Alabama frontman talked to Taste of Country and select media about reaching the $1 billion mark in terms of dollars raised through country music's ongoing efforts with St. Jude. At the time, Country Cares was just a bit past halfway there, but the landmark charitable effort has moved in leaps, not baby steps. It's not unreasonable to think Country Cares could cross the $1 billion threshold soon, perhaps in a year or two.

“My prayers have been to stick around to a billion," Owen told Taste of Country during the 2020 Country Cares seminar in Memphis, Tenn., in January. "I know a lot of people that were with us when we first started, we talk from time to time about the possibility of the $1 billion mark. I’ll be very thankful when that happens, and my wishes and my hopes are that there will be somebody else to go on and take it even further."

Each subsequent Angels Among Us Award honoree seems like a potential candidate to fill Owen's shoes, but a successor has not been named. Lady Antebellum became the most recent winner last month. Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker and Jake Owen have also been honored at a ceremony that typically includes several hundred radio and country music industry professionals.

Each January, over a dozen country artists gather in Memphis to visit with children at St. Jude and perform or chat with Country Cares representatives. It's but a small part of the year-long outreach. Artists including Florida Georgia Line, Hunter Hayes and more have made stops at St. Jude a regular occurrence. They all recognize that they're following in Owen's footsteps.

Become a Partner in Hope online at St Jude.

We Can't Get Over This Special St. Jude Moment With Randy Owen:

Country Artists at St. Jude Through the Years: