St. Jude Kids Make Forever Impressions on the Hearts of Country Music’s Best
Cam, Danielle, Drake, Jerrod and Devin were among over a dozen country singers who just wanted to talk about kids like John, Emily, Bailey and Madison during their visit to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
Country Cares weekend is a unique weekend in January when hundreds of radio and media members visit the Memphis, Tenn., hospital to learn more about how they can help spread the St. Jude message. Dozens of artists take part yearly. They tour, play games with kids, sing songs as needed and experience something that changes their lives.
Statistics show that the outcomes are usually good. Depending on what type of cancer a child is diagnosed with, they could have a 90 percent or higher chance of survival. Overall 80 percent is the survival rate, but everyone remains focused on that one child in five who doesn't make it. Brady, Nick and Ronnie's stories made an impression in 2018. As did Amber, who just wanted to stay alive long enough to see her sister born.
These are a few stories as shared with Taste of Country and select media. If you're moved, consider becoming a partner in hope. It's a small commitment that makes a big difference.
Jerrod Niemann first met John at St. Jude more than a decade ago, but life pulled them apart until recently, when the boy (now a young man) brought his family to a show in Kansas City. He was cancer free, but receiving regular checkups, still for free, courtesy of St. Jude.
"They're still part of the family," Niemann says. "And to see a child now as an adult, it was very surreal. Every little thing we do matters, and it's so exciting to see people survive — especially kids, these angels that are stronger than most people we've ever met."
Madison helped Devin Dawson get over his own troubles and work to move past guilt he felt about his quality of life, when his stepsister was back home fighting cancer. They met in January, started talking like longtime friends, bonding over the color black.
"She had these really cool black and white paintings and just her interpretation of her creativity even though it’s so different than mine ... it was really cool to just instantly bridge a gap between that," Dawson says.
Drake White drew pictures with Kate during his St. Jude visit. The singer is an avid illustrator, even though he says he's awful at it. "My go-to is a mountain range with stick people hiking up the mountain range," White says, recalling his moment. "She's telling me before I get to the mountain range, 'I want green snow.'"
Kate also asked for a full moon — mountains are prettier at night — and the DreamWorks guy fishing on the moon. Quickly they connected in a way White won't soon forget. He hasn't forgotten any of the others, either.
"Every time I let my guard down and go in there and let them move the cursor if you will, it's always a blessing," he says.
Josh Phillips sat down with Emily, an 18-year-old cancer survivor who was visiting for continued observation and research on this day. The new Big Machine Label Group artist said he was blown away by the stories. "I don't understand how they can thank us when they've been through what they've been through when they've been through all of that," he says. "It's incredible."
It didn't take long for American Idol winner Trent Harmon to recognize that Bailey was a Mississippi State football fan. The 13-year-old St. Jude patient was quiet at first, Harmon says, but once they learned they shared a love of the Bulldogs, they hit it off. "It was kind of funny he said that he knew me," Harmon says. But the boy didn't know him through the reality television series.
"I have a friend who said he went to prom with you," Bailey explained. A few seconds later, he'd proved it. "Being from Mississippi we're probably related or something," Harmon cracks. "So yeah, we hit it off."
From Feb. 1-2 Taste of Country is joining more than a dozen Townsquare Media radio stations in this fight, raising money by sharing stories and asking for you to become a partner in hope. Click the button below for more information.
Country Stars Step Up for St. Jude in 2018!