Day Three of the seminar was mainly seminars. We had programming panels, where we got plenty of tips and ideas for our Radiothons.
Then, another yummy lunch buffet followed by a session.... "Meet the Patients - Then and Now."
There were six patients. Three sets of patients, each with the same type of cancer. One of them was from 20-30 years ago and one a current patient. It was fascinating to hear the differences in protocols and treatment, from then to now. Like, they used to not have anti-nausea medicine... "We got sick and we liked it."
Also, ports and lines weren't invented. They would get stuck 5 or 6 times a day.... "We got stuck and we liked it."
They talked about the facilities, too. How much progress has been made.
The coolest thing about those panels? The moderator and three "then" patients are all employed by St Jude or ALSAC, now. They all work to help the cause!
After a short break, we moved to another concert hall. There, the 17th patient at St. Jude shared the story of his life. Dwight Tosh entered treatment at St Jude the year it opened, in 1962. He was 13 years old. His story was absolutely amazing!! Today, he's the only double-digit still alive. See, the patient numbers are given out in numerical order. He's patient number 17. A child that comes to St. Jude today would be somewhere in the 28,ooo's.
We were treated to light refreshments.... trust me, after such an emotional journey, I was ready for the chocolate, lol! Then, our last "Meet the Patients" sesson. There, we met patients from 20, 15, 10, and 5 years ago, plus one from today. The two adults on the panel are ALSAC employees, today. Lindsay was featured on 'Jon and Kate Plus 8.' Once again, it was so inspiring to hear their stories!!
Then, there was a special recognition for the 25 stations that have been participating in Country Cares all 20 years! After that, we disbursed to get dressed up for the Songwriter's Dinner!
D, Toni, M, and I at the Songwriter's Dinner
The Songwriter's Dinner is the big send-off of the weekend. It's a seated, 3-course dinner. It's so much fun!
M and I
Toni and I
Killer Beaz and Kelly. They're members of our uber-great region... Region 16!
M, Kelly, and I
Danielle and I
Trumaine and I.... LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this guy!
After dinner, there was a special presentation. First, one of the speakers wanted to drive home the point... we ARE winning the battle. In a room of about 1000 people, he asked two tables to stand up. In 1962, when St Jude opened, those two tables would be the ones to survive, if the whole room was diagnosed with Pediatric Cancer. Everyone else in the room would be dead. Then, he asked two more tables to stand up. Today, if the whole room was filled with children diagnosed with cancer, those standing would die... everyone else would survive. WHAT A DIFFERENCE!! We are winning, even though the battle isn't over, yet! I still get chills, just thinking about it.
Then, they presented Randy Owen with this special plaque that will hang in the hospital. Randy started Country Cares for St. Jude Kids 20 years ago. Since then, country music has raised $345 million for St. Jude!
Randy then took the floor. In the past, the Songwriter's Dinner was just that... for songwriters. About 6 or 7 would get up on stage and sing the songs that made it big in country music. This year, he said, we were starting something different! He wanted to bring on ARTISTS who also write their own songs. He said he had two bonafide stars to perform for us.
The first was Ritchie McDonald... lead singer of Lonestar.
Then, came the moment where I turned from a calm, cool, respectable young woman into a screaming, shaking, giggly schoolgirl, lol.
Yes, I... Jessica.... got to listen to a private, acoustic performance from my favorite, Keith! I was in heaven, lol. If I squinted so that I couldn't see the rest of the room, I could pretend it was just for me, lol.
*sigh* I just love this man.
Keith, Ritchie, and Randy sang some of their hits that they've written.... Mountain Music, Tennessee River, Angels Amony Us, Let Them Be Little, Already There, Front Porch Looking In, Better Life, Sweet Thing, But For the Grace of God, Somebody Like You... plus, a couple of others.
Funniest moment?.... Ritchie was just starting "Already There" when the fire alarm went off! Only, it was this annoying tone, not a normal alarm sound. About one verse in, he goes, "Is that a flute or the fire alarm? Do we need to evacuate?"
Everything was fine... false alarm. What was really funny was that no one made a move to leave their seats, lol. Not exactly great practice, but I wasn't about to leave a room with Keith Urban in it, until I *knew* I had to!
Second best moment... Keith started singing his latest hit, "Sweet Thing." One verse in, he burst out laughing and says (in his great Australian accent), "I'm singing in the wrong key! I thought these notes were a little high!... Forgive me, this is only the second time I've sang this live!"
Sadly, the evening had to end. We blissfully returned to our hotel to pack and dream sweet dreams of being serenaded by one brilliant Aussie!