Darius Rucker & Friends Raise More Than $500,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

by Jim Casey

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., has been dedicated to treating and defeating childhood cancer since 1962. It is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. And because of generous donors like Darius Rucker, families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing, or food. So they can focus on what matters most—helping their child live.

Rucker returned to Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium on June 6 for his 13th annual Darius & Friends concert, which benefits St. Jude. And he brought along a fierce force of female friends, notably Sheryl Crow, Lindsay Ell, Sara Evans, Caylee Hammack, and Rachel Wammack. The concert, along with Darius’ corresponding golf tournament and silent auction the following day, raised $516,000 for St. Jude. This year’s fundraising effort—a record for Darius—brings his St. Jude fundraising total to more than $3 million since launching the event almost 15 years ago.

In front of a sold-out crowd on the Ryman stage on June 6, Darius reminisced about his first visit to St. Jude in 2008.

“I’m talking to one administrator and she said, ‘When you bring your kid to St. Jude, we fly you in, we put you up, we feed you and we never send you a bill,'” said Darius. “I started talking to people there and it’s true. That day I said, ‘I want to do something to help.’ I’m doing this for St. Jude—thank you guys for coming out.”

A Little Help From His Friends

Darius and his all-star team treated the Ryman crowd to a set list of 30 songs. Darius knocked out a number of tunes from his solo catalog, as well as from his days fronting Hootie & the Blowfish, including “For the First Time,” “Homegrown Honey,” “Let Her Cry,” “Hold My Hand,” and more. Of course, the ladies kept the party going with “Suds in the Bucket” (Sara Evans), “Like Me” (Rachel Wammack), “Forged in Fire” (Caylee Hammack), “If It Makes You Happy” (Sheryl Crow), “I Don’t Love You” (Lindsay Ell) and more.

As has become tradition, Darius capped the show with a singalong to his 2013 chart-topping hit, “Wagon Wheel.”

In addition, one of the highlights of the evening was Addie, a St. Jude cancer survivor who was diagnosed with leukemia when she was 15 years old and has been in remission for five years. She earned a standing ovation with her a cappella rendition of “Never Be Enough” from The Greatest Showman.

Fans can continue to donate to St. Jude in honor of Darius & Friends.