Last week, I got the privilege of visiting St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, TN. Simply put, it was an AMAZING experience.
I touched down in the land of the Delta Blues on Thursday afternoon, and checked in to the world famous Peabody Hotel! The Peabody has ducks that live on the roof of the hotel, and every morning, they ride the elevator down to swim in the lobby fountain all day. There's an opening and closing ceremony each day, and it's really fun.
For dinner, I met up with friends down on the legendary Beale Street!
I should note at this point that I essentially had the song "Walking In Memphis" stuck inside my head all weekend, and that continues as I write this blog.
We ate dinner and caught some blues at B. B. Kings, then headed to another Beale Street bar, Silky O'Sullivan's, where I met up with American Idol winner and country artist Trent Harmon!
Trent was super nice, and one of the many country artists that was also in town for this St. Jude conference.
Friday was our day to tour St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
What an amazing place. St. Jude founder Danny Thomas famously said "No child should die in the dawn of life."That's essentially the phrase that drives them at St. Jude, and getting to see firsthand how this place operates was eye-opening. Since they opened their doors in the 60's, the childhood cancer survival rate has gone from 20% to 80%. That is fantastic, but not good enough, and why the fight continues at St. Jude.
Treatment of patients at St. Jude is way more than medical procedures. It's about healing as a whole, and that includes ways to make the kids feel like kids. There's a teen art gallery there, comprised of art made by teenage St. Jude patients.
Being the Star Wars geek that I am, this one was my favorite.
Being in a BBQ capital of the country, I knew I HAD to grab some dry rub ribs while in Memphis. I settled on a place called Rendezvous right across the street from the Peabody. It's in an alley (promising start for good Q), and you head downstairs to an awesome restaurant. The ribs were fantastic, and I even bought some of the rub to bring home with me!
After dinner, we came back and had a Casino Night at the Peabody. I had a ton of fun playing blackjack with other radio friends and country artists, like Cole Swindell, Chris Lane, Runaway June, and Maddie and Tae. Here's me with Tae and her record rep Michelle!
Saturday was filled with great seminars, including a keynote address from former Bucks coach and NBA legend George Karl. We also got to meet some of the current patients at St. Jude, and hearing them talk about their experiences was really special.
To close out the trip, we had one big formal meal at the Peabody. It's called the Songwriter's Dinner, and we had great food combined with a guitar pull of fantastic artists. From left to right, it's Darius Rucker, Charles Kelley from Lady A, John Oates (Hall and Oates) and Randy Owen of Alabama.
I had an EARLY morning flight out of Memphis on Sunday, but even though I was sleepy eyed on the airport shuttle, I still managed to catch of glimpse of the legendary Sun Studios on the way (sorry, no pic!).
I ended up with a window seat on the plane, where I was fortunate enough to have this beautiful view!
Yeah, that's the plane engine...
All in all, it was an amazing experience. Between our Radiothon last year, and this trip, I'm sold. This is a really special place, and it's all about hope there! St. Jude patients and families don't ever receive a bill for treatment, and St. Jude covers all of their expenses, from treatment to travel, food, lodging...everything. They are on the cutting edge of cancer research, and I have no doubt in my mind that when a total cure for cancer is found, it will be done at St. Jude.
You are what makes this possible. I would encourage you to become a St. Jude Partner In Hope and keep their fight going. It's less than 20 dollars a month, which breaks out to 66 cents a day.