Jaclyn’s St. Jude Country Cares Experience: Part I
Last weekend, Chad and I made the five hour trip down to Memphis, Tennessee. It was for the annual Country Cares for St. Jude Kids radio weekend. This was my second year to make the trip and it was amazing! I have learned that any time I'm at St. Jude my heart will leave heavy, but full. And, this weekend was no different.
Thursday night was a welcome dinner at local restaurant Rendevous. There were just under 1,000 radio people from all over the country at the seminar, so they divided us up regionally for dinner. We were excited to see our friends from across the river, Murray and Bowling Green. After I got my plate of deliciousness, I look about three feet from my table and who do I see?? None other than Martina McBride! Yep, I was pretty excited! (Sidenote, she is tiny!! Her butt is about the size of my left thigh!) Of course, Chad and I immediately thought of Pappa Moon. You know, he absolutely LOVES her! So, what do we do?!?
Nothing conventional, that's for sure! Ha! The only writing utensil I had in my purse was a green crayola, that wasn't going to work. So, Chad's crazy brain went to work and we ended up with a napkin saying "Hi Moon!" written in baked bean juice!! Haha, I'm totally not kidding! So, we go over to her, explain how our boss is an old drunk man who loves her and she's on board with a fun pic! By the way, she was a class act the whole weekend. Never saying no to a picture or looking like she was annoyed with the attention. Just a very nice person. I told her I'd tweet her the pic and she actually tweeted me back! Like I said, total class.
Friday was exciting because it was hospital day. Even though the tour of the hospital is just about the same as I've had twice in the past, that place really does something for your spirit. The first thing we did was go to listen to a St. Jude physician and current patient family speak. When we got into the conference room I felt like I was with my Mom at church, Chad took me straight to the front row! But, being that close I was able to see the patient, Owen and his mom.
I immediately recognized him from last year. That was a warm and fuzzy feeling being able to see him growing as a six year old little boy and how passionate they still were about their experience at St. Jude. They both walked us through their journey with cancer, from their current status to how much his treatment would typically cost ($565,000!!). And, I couldn't help but sit there and think; As a parent, do you ever forget that your child has cancer, does the fear of relapse always cloud your mind, do you ever just live? I thankfully don't have to ask myself those questions, but I do know this. Owen is a growing, smart, funny little boy that is here because of the miraculous work at St. Jude.
The halls of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital are fun, colorful works of children's art. I swear when you walk in, it feels like a big bundle of HOPE just hits you right in the face! The hospital really was constructed and is ran with the children in mind.
From the short registration desks to the lowered sinks in the bathroom, it's obvious that children are their main concern. And, of course, children are everywhere! Those sweet little faces and bald heads filled the Radio Flyer wagons rolling through the hallways. Once again, I find myself questioning things. (Apparantely, I talk to myself all of the time!) When we would pass parents, I wondered which smile to give them. I didn't want to portray a sympothy smile or one of disconcern. So, I just gave them a regular one and hope it was enough.
After some radio-thon training, it was time for dinner and casino night. My favorite night of the trip! Casino night is where we play, with fake money, to win y'all awesome prizes for our radio-thon. One of the cool things is that there are always country artists at the event to mingle with. We met some great new people and got reacquanted with some artists from last year. We were able to meet Martina, Eli Young Band (we saw them last year too), JT Hodges, Kip Moore, Glen Templeton, Burns and Poe, Josh Thompson, Steve Holy, Jon Pardi, Margaret Durante and Lauren Alaina. (I'll be nice to her after Chad's about the poor girl! Ha! But, in my defense, she did need some lip gloss and I loaned her some!Ha!) Here are some pics from the artist that we met, enjoy!
Part II of my St. Jude weekend to follow! I'll tell you all about more patient families that we were introduced to and the most inspirational speech I've heard, from a true American hero.