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Memphis, Tenn. – January 25, 2010 – Country music artists, industry leaders and radio stations descended on the "Home of the Blues"last week to kick off the annual Country Cares for St. Jude Kids® radio fundraising program. Country Cares unites the music industry and has raised more than $365 million since its inception to help St. Jude Children's Research Hospital® find cures and save children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases.
More than 650 participants from across the country attended the seminar, including artists like Carrie Underwood, Jewel, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Steve Azar, Danny Gokey, Little Big Town, Darryl Worley, Joe Nichols and Randy Owen of the GRAMMY® Award-winning group ALABAMA. Owen co-founded Country Cares in 1989 after meeting St. Jude founder Danny Thomas, who asked him to spearhead an effort within the country music industry to help cure childhood cancer.
"There's nothing like St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. There's nothing like the St. Jude Country Cares program," Owen said. "This is the most important thing I've done in my life besides take care of my wife and children."
During the seminar, attendees learned about St. Jude's lifesaving mission, toured the hospital and met St. Jude patients and their families. A highlight of the event was the highly anticipated Songwriters' Dinner Saturday evening, which concluded the seminar's three days of activities. The dinner featured performances by Owen, Lee Miller, Wayne Carson, Brice Long, Jim Weatherly and Wynn Varble, as well as a special tribute to Richard C. Shadyac, former CEO of St. Jude's fundraising organization, ALSAC. Shadyac passed away in September 2009.
Although Country Cares radiothons across the country are held year-round, the majority will begin the week of January 25, 2010 and continue throughout the spring. These events typically last two days and feature St. Jude patient stories, country artist story-song vignettes, local patient appearances and exciting radio station promotions.
Bill Black, program director of WKSJ in Mobile, Ala., has been to the seminar every year for the past 10 years; WKSJ has been a Country Cares partner station for 16 years.
"Coming to the seminar is a wonderful way to recharge your charity batteries," Black said. "It's a great way to ground me and ground my staff, to remind us of what's important and why we're helping."
Since 1989, hundreds of country artists like Keith Urban, Taylor Swift, Chris Young and Brad Paisley have given their names and time to the program through recorded appeals, visits to the children at the hospital or call-ins to radiothons.
Nashville newcomer Gokey made his first visit to St. Jude during this year's Country Cares seminar.
"The one thing I noticed is that this is a happy place. And you see the children and there is so much hope and optimism in their eyes," Gokey said. "I'm looking around and I'm thinking, 'How can I help? What can I do? How can I be a part of this?'"
Visit www.countrycares.org to learn more about Country Cares and to support St. Jude's groundbreaking research and lifesaving care.
About St. Jude
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is internationally recognized for its pioneering work in finding cures and saving children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases.
St. Jude is the first and only pediatric cancer center to be designated as a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute. Founded by late entertainer Danny Thomas and based in Memphis, Tenn., St. Jude freely shares its discoveries with scientific and medical communities around the world. St. Jude is the only pediatric cancer research center where families never pay for treatment not covered by insurance. No child is ever denied treatment because of the family's inability to pay. St. Jude is financially supported by ALSAC, its fundraising organization. For more information, please visit www.stjude.org.
Images of country music artists touring St. Jude, interacting with patients and celebrating the rich history of Country Cares are available. Visit www.countrycares.org/media.cfm to view the images.
B-roll is also available upon request.