Monday, February 1, 2010

"Kisses make it feel all better" - St Jude Patient

I know it's been a long time coming, but it's finally here!

On January 14th, it was time to head to Memphis for the Country Cares for St. Jude Radio Training Seminar. Boy did we have fun getting there, too, lol.

First of all, M had a gig in Atlanta earlier in the week. Well, we had a layover in Atlanta. So, her plan was to change her ticket, to just meet us in Atlanta. Only, Delta wasn't cooperating.

Then, we were going through the hardest and longest cold snap Florida has seen in decades. All the growers in Central Florida were using extra water to try and keep the crops alive. Well, the extra water usage was draining our aquifers...... and causing some sinkhole-like activity on I-4.

For two days, we fretted over how we were going to get everyone to Memphis, lol.

M decided to drive overnight back to Tampa. LA and I caught a ride to the airport EARLY. Our flight was at 9:50am, but with heightened security (because of underwear bombs) and sinkholes causing bad traffic, we really didn't want to take a chance.

At 6:30am, we left my house. At exactly 7:30am, we were standing in line at the Starbucks, right next to our gate. That's right, it took us an hour to get there and get through security. All that worrying and nothing, lol..... so, we made ourselves comfortable for the next two hours.

Meanwhile, M was booking it back to Tampa. Her job had ended late the night before.... she got her rental car at 12:45am and had been driving since. At 8:30, she still wasn't quite at the airport and was near tears.

Thankfully, at 9:00am, she was walking up to the gate! We were going to make it! We boarded the plane to go right back to where M had just driven 7 1/2 hours overnight from, lol.

According to my traveling companions, both of our flights were extremely bumpy. I couldn't tell you, because I was asleep and was loving every second of it.

When we got to Memphis, we checked into the seminar and then into our hotel. We were on the Early Bird Tour, so we boarded a bus to the hospital.

In the Pavilion, there's a mini-museum dedicated to Danny Thomas. It's broken into the four main components of his public life.....



St. Jude Hospital (of course)

ALSAC (the fundraising arm of St. Jude)....... In 1957, Danny Thomas formed a group of business men, investors, and friends to raise money for a hospital that would help children with cancer. In 1962, the hospital opened.

Corporate Sponsors of St. Jude...... take a good look and frequent these places....

Do you want to know where your donation is going?......

Country Cares for St. Jude Kids.......... How I get to be involved :)

Last year, Randy Owen was honored for creating Country Cares, 20 years prior. His plaque now hangs in the Pavilion.

Statue of St. Jude - The Patron Saint of Hopeless Causes

Katie Couric was pivotal in the start of the "Thanks and Giving" Campaign. As thanks, she is honored in one of the waiting rooms.

As you walk down one of the longer hallways, you walk through the four seasons. This was new to experience for us, as they were painting it last year.

These flags represent all the countries from where all the St Jude/ALSAC employees come.

Me, LA, and M standing with the "lucky" bust of Danny Thomas.

The lobby of the Chili's Care Center..... yep, the restaurant chain. The fascility is HUGE and has really expanded the hospital's capabilities.

After the tour, we had a welcome reception and headed to dinner with our region. Our region ate at Rendevous.... yum! Throughout the night, different artists walked around. To be honest, most of them you've never heard of and probably never will.

You may have heard of these, guys....... Lynaryd Skynard (obviously the ones that didn't die in the plane crash..... which I had to explain to someone, lol).

Beale Street was a-calling for many of our peers. However, we called it a Grandma Night. Poor M had been up for almost 36 hours with only the two plane rides, as a nap. So, Day One was over!

The next morning, we got up and ate breakfast. Most everyone headed out to the hospital, but since we'd already been, we had a separate day planned. First, a "Meet The Team"..... we met 15 year old Chase and the team that takes care of him. Chase is battling Osteosarcoma of the Skull (bone cancer in his skull). His outlook is something that I strive for.

We then had a break before lunch. BTW.... not only is the food really good, but it's very plentiful, lol. They are constantly feeding us.

The convention was held at The Peabody, so ducks were kind of a big thing throughout the weekend, lol.

The famous ducks in their famous fountain.

The front of the Duck Palace.

This way to the Duck Palace...

When they aren't in the downstairs fountain, they reside in this miniature fountain.

They really do live in The Peabody.

I thought this was cool.......

White Chocolate Duck.....

After lunch, we met some St Jude Volunteers and then had an activity. The two volunteers offered a unique perspective and have such heart to work there a couple times a week.

For the activity, we put together little craft kits for the kids. Our table made up Door Hanger kits.

The Door Hanger Table....

We had quite a little break in front of us, so I was able to take a nap, hit the hotel gym, and then take a shower to get ready for Lucky Duck Casino Night!

M and Joe Nichols

LA and Joe Nichols

Jewel and M

Myself, our new friend A, LA, and M at Casino Night.... Alyssa is from a Tampa station. While we're technically competitors, lol, A quickly became our 4th for the weekend!

M and I at Casino Night.

After we fake gambled and won nothing, lol, we headed out to Beale. We settled on Silky's because we were hoping to see the goat. There was no goat, however, there was a Bachelor Party (full of some really great, upstanding gentlemen). Once they vacated, they were replaced by a bunch of Frat Boys (who weren't as upstanding and spent the rest of the night hitting on us, lol).

Us at Silky O'Sullivans (to my direct left was one of the dueling pianos)

We were headed back to the hotel when I got a text from my buddy, C. He's one of our record reps and we love him so, lol. We sat in the lobby for awhile, catching up.....

On Day 3, we started with breakfast, roundtables, and panel discussions. Basically, lots of Radiothon discussion with tips, etc. All really interesting, helpful, and informative (well, to those of us Radio Geeks, lol).

After lunch, we had a special guest speaker. Tom Shadyac is the brother of Rick Shadyac, the CEO of ALSAC. Their father, Richard Shadyac, was one of the founding members of ALSAC and served as the CEO for over 10 years. He passed away this past October and his son has stepped in.

Tom, however, is in the film industry. He directed the films Ace Ventura, Bruce Almighty, Evan Almighty, Patch Adams, and I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. He is extremely successful and chooses to live in a double-wide trailer, lol. He was so fun, entertaining, and inspiring!!

Tom, on the right, isn't quite the lawyer that his father and brother are, lol.

M in the group picture with Tom Shadyac.

The last program was "Meet the Patients"..... we got to meet several of the patients and their families. It's always the most touching and funny of the weekend.... it's always the last, too.

One of the families was actually a pair of sisters. They were diagnosed on the same day, with brain tumors. Their mother had me in tears and stitches, at the same time, with her story of showing up with BOTH of her children and being asked how she was doing. "I hadn't found Jesus at that point and I wanted nothing more than to rip that woman's hair out. How did she THINK I was doing?"

The best part? She and her husband pay NOTHING for either of her children's care. She said they kept asking how much this all was going to cost them..... "My husband was emptying his wallet and I had dumped out my purse on the Admission Lady's desk. I have no idea why I thought $3 would pay for a CAT scan! But, they told us it wouldn't cost us a thing and it hasn't."

I wish I had pictures, but I always feel weird taking their pictures without their express permission.

When that was over, it was time to get gussied up for the Songwriter's Dinner!

Butter Ducks......

LA and I at the Songwriter's Dinner

M and I at the Songwriter's Dinner

Randy Owen

I can't remember this guy's name, but he wrote "You're Gonna Miss This" and co-wrote "In Color." He wrote the song with Jamey Johnson and James Otto. I've been able to hear all three sing that song....... soooo cool, as they all have slightly different interpretations of it.

I don't remember their names, either. However, the guy on the left wrote "Midnight Train to Georgia." The guy on the right wrote "Waitin On A Woman" among others.

LA, myself, and M

A joins the crowd!

The weekend had officially come to a close :(

We hit up Beale Street, again, and hung out at BB King's. I called it a night around 2:15 and headed back to the hotel. I ended up FB chatting with TG until about 3:30 (which just so happens to be the last time we talked :( ).

The next morning, we ate lunch and got to the airport to get home.

It was an AMAZING weekend. I wish every single person had the opportunity to experience St Jude.

So..... in the next couple of posts, I'll be announcing a very special St. Jude Giveaway. My 200th post is coming up, so I thought it was fitting! Stay tuned!


Gina said...

Good for you for making a difference. That is AWESOME. What a cool opportunity. :)

Justine said...

Looks like a great trip!! Our philanthropy for the sorority I was in was St. Jude's.

Lil' Woman said...

What a great trip and to be able to meet some of the patients!

I would love to get involved in more cause and St. Jude's is def. a important one!

Matthias said...

Hey, I notice you visited the hotel gym. Would you mind writing a review at