For the fourth year in a row, the Rock 'N Roll Marathon Series is partnering with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, with this rockin' race being held in the one and only music city, Nashville. The half and full marathon held on April 30 brings with it a huge economic impact to the city of Nashville, and is proud to make the Memphis based children's hospital its official benefactor. And this year, there will be a very special group of runners on the course. Nine celebrities, including several from the country music industry, and even a comedian, will be running as St. Jude Heroes, and completing the full marathon as a relay team. St. Jude Heroes are walkers and runners who pledge to raise money for St.Jude, then complete one of hundreds of endurance events offered around the country.
For 25 years the country music industry has been an ardent and generous supporter of St. Jude, raising over $400 million dollars with the Country Cares for St. Jude Kids radiothons. Rick Shadyac, CEO of ALSAC/St. Jude, the fundraising and awareness arm of St. Jude, is grateful for their support. He states, "I say this with great pride, but I don't know if there is another industry that has has a more profound impact on a philanthropic mission then the country music industry has had on St. Jude's mission, which is to find cures for pediatric cancer. It speaks volumes about the passion and compassion they have for our families."
Suzanne Alexander, host of the Great American Country Network show Great American Playlist, will be running as part of the celebrity relay team. Her long time support of St. Jude started years ago when she worked the Country Cares radiothons. "I started as a DJ working the St. Jude radiothons, then when I got involved in running for charity, I began running for St. Jude. Running for me is never easy, but when I think about these kids I am running for, I get overcome with emotion. I think about why I'm running and who I am running for and I just do it."
Alexander will be running the marathon relay along with comedian Jim Labriola, singer/songwriter and The Voice winner Cassadee Pope, country music star Terri Clark, Clark's road manager Laurie Ziegler, and Motown Gospel recording artist Janice Gaines. For Gaines, who was raised in the shadow of St. Jude in Memphis, running as part of the relay team is very personal. Her niece suffers from Sickle Cell Disease, one of the many diseases St. Jude studies and treats. Gaines said, "St. Jude saved my niece's life, what they do is amazing. I am willing to offer my artisty, music, or whatever they need, including running, to support their mission. I am honored to do so."
A second celebrity relay team consisting of actor Geoff Stults, RCA Records executive Josh Easler and model Alana Marie Greenberg will also be running as St. Jude Heroes.
Shadyac and all the patients and families at St. Jude are more than grateful for the enthusiastic and devoted support the county music industry and its fan base continue to unselfishly give to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital®. He states, "They are walking the walk, running the run. They are not just talking, they are physically participating and supporting St. Jude by running. They're participation raises awareness and interest and it's heartwarming to see a celebrity team come together and support St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
To learn more about the St. Jude Rock 'N Roll Nashville Marathon and Half Marathon, click here. For more information on the St. Jude Heroes program, visit Heroes.
Melissa Fenton is a freelance writer. Find her on Facebook and at 4boysmother