This past weekend Kicker's Jim Weaver and I attended the 2017 St. Jude Radio Seminar that helps prepare Country Cares radio stations all across the country, and now even Canada, for our annual Radiothons.

I find that no matter how many times I attend, I come away more touched and inspired by all the many stories and continued research going on in this incredible place. It humbles me to walk down the halls of the hospital and see what these children and families are going through on a daily basis. That no matter how dark the world may seem at times there is light and hope at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. I heard it over and over again that families who bring their sick child here are given hope and inspiration that their child has a chance to survive this catastrophic disease called cancer.

One of the things I was most proud of was the fact that Country Cares radio stations have raised a whopping $700 million dollars since the Radiothons began in 1989 headed up by Randy Owen of Alabama fame. But radio stations aren't able to do this without the support and love from our country music listeners. That's one of the things I love about country music listeners -- they are some of the most loyal, giving and caring fanbase out there.

Some of the highlights of this year's seminar was being able to mingle with some country music stars at Casino night at the world famous Peabody Hotel. They come in to visit and take pictures with the kids, tour the hospital and of course visit with all the attendees. Every year, St. Jude brings in a surprise motivational guest speaker and this year it was legendary NBA coach George Karl who shared his own cancer survivor story about himself and his son. He went on to say he believes with all his heart that someday St. Jude will find a complete cure for this ugly disease.

Veteran attendees got to do something that even some St. Jude representatives have never done and that's taking a tour of the (GMP) Good Manufacturing Practice Facility. It's where they develop and produce some of the vaccines, gene therapy products and antibodies that help in the treatment of kids at St. Jude. Everyone who went on this tour had to wear a Tyvek suit, basically a coverall suit that covers most of your body and feet and prevents contamination. Every part of this facility was pressurized and air locked for a clean germ-free environment. All the work they do in these chambers is about saving lives

At the seminar they have a segment called "Meet The Patients" where attendees get to hear stories from patients and their families. After hearing their emotional, heartfelt stories it was nice to hear that an 8-year old little girl is learning to walk again, able to talk again and is now cancer free. One of the teens there is also in remission and plans to run in a marathon later this year and another teen boy is doing well and even rapped to a song with his brother -- a song that he wrote about his love for St. Jude. Many of the patients who were treated at the hospital come back to either work for the hospital in some capacity or go into a medical field because they love it so much there and want to give back.

On the final night we were all treated to a concert from Randy Owen, Darius Rucker, John Oates of Hall & Oates fame and Charles Kelley of Lady Antebellum. By the way, Darius Rucker was the recipient of the Angels Among Us Award. An award that was given to him for donating $1 million dollars to St. Jude through charitable events he undertook. Rucker wrote a song "Possibilities" with all the proceeds going to St. Jude.

The end of the show capped off with a stirring rendition of "Angels Among Us" from Randy Owen. The crowd held hands and swayed  to the music as another radio seminar came to an end. But now it's on to the best part -- raising money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital through our Radiothons nationwide.

The 2017 Country Cares For St. Jude Kids Radiothon is set for Feb. 16-17, 2017 on Kicker 102.5.

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