St. Jude Encourages Patients to Act Like Kids

Kellie Pickler, Sara Evans and others visit for 25th Country Cares Seminar.

Alabama’s Randy Owen with patients.
photo courtesy St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

In January, the Country Cares for St. Jude initiative co-founded by Alabama’s Randy Owen celebrated 25 years of raising money to help the kids of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The sum raised through the program totals $500 million to date, an incredible sum made possible through the time and effort of country artists and a committed network of radio stations.

Visiting the hospital and the seminar in Memphis were artists Kellie Pickler, Sara Evans, Rascal Flatts, Eli Young Band, Cassadee Pope and many others.

Kellie, who first visited nearly a decade ago, says she’s always struck by the level of care and the steps taken to make sure kids are happy while they are being treated. “A lady last night has a son that’s been treated here. He’s in remission now,” she said between making art projects with patients at the arts and crafts fair. “I thought this really captured what St. Jude is about. She said, ‘My son’—he was 8 or 9—‘I think he forgot or didn’t realize how sick he was because they made it so fun.’ I thought, that’s really interesting. That’s the ultimate goal is of course for the kids to get well, but during that process they still need to have the freedom to be a kid.”

And since St. Jude treats patients from less than 1 up through the late teens, all the patients have things they can enjoy at their fingertips. “They’ve really created such a kid-friendly atmosphere so that at any age they have rooms that are appropriate,” continued Kellie. “They had a room for teenagers where they’ve got a pool table the Wii set up. It really changes everything, I think.”

To read more about the 25th anniversary of Country Cares, check out the Feb. 17 issue of Country Weekly.

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