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Since 1999, Pierce has held a one-day gospel-singing event in Gainesville, Georgia, to raise funds and awareness for St. Jude. The event started as a bike-a-thon and gospel-singing event, but Pierce had more community support for the gospel-singing portion.
After a few years, he made it solely a gospel-singing event, and today it attracts more than 2,500 annually and last year raised more than $30,000 for St. Jude. Since its inception, the event has raised $235,000 to help support the lifesaving mission of the hospital.
Pierce became involved with raising funds for the hospital after his son, a St. Jude patient, lost his battle with acute myeloid leukemia in 1983. “I just really wanted to do something to give back to St. Jude,” Pierce said. “I do it to help the kids there now. It’s not a lot but every little bit helps.”
Pierce’s dedication and commitment to St. Jude were recognized in 2010 when he was named the Special Events Coordinator of the Year at the St. Jude Volunteer Appreciation Awards celebration. Each year, through the volunteer awards, the hospital recognizes those individuals and groups who have embraced the St. Jude mission in extraordinary ways.
Pierce holds the event at the Georgia Mountains Center in Gainesville, which seats 2,600, and he hopes the growing popularity of the gospel-singing program will help it grow into a two-day event for St. Jude.
Pierce, a solo vocalist and a member of several singing groups, said the Gainesville community has been very supportive of his efforts. WDUN 550AM, a local news/talk radio station, promotes the event on air each year. Danny Jones, editor of The Singing News who has written about the event for the publication, will serve as this year’s emcee. Those attending have traveled from as far as California and Southern Florida for the event.
This year, the 13th annual gospel sing will be held at 6 p.m., August 6, at the Georgia Mountains Center. Featured artists include Karen Peck and New River, The Perrys, The Kingsmen Quartet, CS&K and the Down East Boys. As in the past, admission is free, but donations for St. Jude will be collected.