More than a dozen country artists gathered at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., on Jan. 12-15 to participate in the annual Country Cares for St. Jude Kids event, which connects celebrities with radio stations and other media outlets to help raise money for St. Jude. The event, which was created by Alabama's Randy Owen in 1989, to date, has raised more than $700 million dollars.

Darius Rucker, who was the recipient of the 2017 Angels Among Us Award, honoring his commitment to St. Jude, participated in the weekend's slate of events, along with Chase Bryant, Brett Young, Love and Theft, Maddie & Tae, Cole Swindell, the Scott Brothers and many more.

"Country music is the family that loves to give back," Rucker told The Boot and other reporters during Country Cares. "We all see what amazing things they do at St. Jude, and it’s great ... It’s an amazing place, it does amazing things. The fact that no parent goes there and has to worry about getting themselves there, where they’re going to stay, how they’re going to eat ... I’d tell my fans, keep giving. Keep supporting St. Jude because they’re doing amazing things."

Bryant, whose brother is a Stage IV leukemia survivor, says it's his own family history that inspired him to become involved with St. Jude.

"The people that give to this cause, I always say, it’s better than investing in stock markets. You’re saving the kids that are going to run the world at some point in time," Bryant says. "They make you feel like family when you come here. Everybody’s willing to help; everybody’s doing something. Everybody’s got a smile on their face, which blows my mind. That’s why I can’t stop coming back."

Both Maddie Marlow and Tae Dye, who together make up Maddie & Tae, have also been personally affected by cancer: Dye supported her boyfriend, Jackie Lee, when his mother passed away from cancer in June, while one of Marlow's closest friends also lost her mother to cancer last year.

"It’s incredible to come to a hospital and feel so much joy and so much hope, because normally it’s the opposite feeling," Marlow notes. "But the second that we walked in here, I was just overwhelmed with how joyful this building is. You just wouldn’t expect that from a hospital, because every person in this organization, every person at St. Jude, works so hard to make sure that it feels homey for these kids, and feels normal."

Adds Dye, "We love that there’s no bills, and the survival rates have gone up tremendously. We got to see all the statistics for that, and it’s just awesome to know that, like Maddie said, with all the benefit shows, we’re seeing the results of it, and it’s awesome, and it makes us want to do more and more."

Rick Shadyac, CEO of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, is grateful for country music's long-standing relationship with the hospital; the genre's support is unlike any other, he says.

"The country music industry has embraced us in a very unique way," Shadyac boasts. "There’s a lot of great charities out there, but the country music industry has decided they want to make a gigantic investment in this mission. And I think they know they have a tremendous impact on helping kids that have been devastated by this horrible disease, cancer. And every time they come here, I think they grow closer to us."

St. Jude provides free care for children battling cancer and other diseases of the blood. For more information, or to donate to St. Jude, visit

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