Rascal Flatts, Cassadee Pope Make Dreams Come True at 16th annual Waiting for Wishes

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The stars came out big time for the 16th annual Waiting for Wishes dinner at the Hilton in downtown Nashville, all in support of Make-A-Wish Middle Tennessee and the Kevin Carter Foundation. The event turns the table on a host of stars ranging from country singers to actors and actresses, who all suit up in their Waiting for Wishes aprons to play waiter and waitress to the night’s attendees, all in the name of charity.

Twelve-time co-host Jay DeMarcus of Rascal Flatts met NFL star Kevin Carter many years ago and developed a friendship over a mutual love of football and music. When Carter asked him to participate in the noble event, he jumped at the chance. “It’s been one of the greatest decisions I’ve ever made, it’s turned into one of my favorite things to do all year, so I’m so thrilled to be a part of it,” DeMarcus tells Sounds Like Nashville on the red carpet before the event.

The Kevin Carter Foundation launched in 2002 and works to improve the lives of youth everywhere and encourage strong character development. Make-A-Wish is an organization beloved across the globe, granting a variety of wishes for children with life-threatening illness, whether sending them on a trip to Disney World or setting up a meet and greet with their favorite star. “I feel like they’re really, really doing God’s work and I could never say enough about what they mean and what they’ve meant to me over the years,” DeMarcus gushes about the organization. “The work that they do is just so unbelievable and I’m so happy to be partnered with them.”

The country music community is known for being a tight-knit group, so the Rascal Flatts star called on several of his friends in the genre to participate. One who happily obliged is “Worth the Wait” singer Lindsay Ell, who actually worked as a waitress before reaching country music stardom, paying her way to her achieve dreams in Nashville. “I love being able to give back and especially to kids, it’s just a soft spot in my heart and I always love to be able to work with charities that work with kids,” Ell says.

And Make-A-Wish truly hits home for the singer, revealing that many of her family and friends have been impacted by the organization. “The fact that we are able to raise a little bit of money to change not only a child’s life, but their family and their extended family, it just has such an impact,” she says.

Cassadee Pope and fiancé Rian Dawson of rock band All Time Low were also on the red carpet, both of whom are first year participants. The “Wasting All These Tears” singer met DeMarcus when she opened for Rascal Flatts in 2013 and describes the member of the trio as one of her biggest supporters. With all the encouragement he’s given her, coupled with the amazing work of the organizations, showing up was an easy commitment. “Kids are the future and obviously taking care of their health is important, but also just their motivation, to encourage them to be better and the character-building thing to me is so important,” Pope says.

“Anytime you can give a little bit of joy or smile anything like that to someone who’s going through a time that you can’t even imagine, it’s a no-brainer,” Dawson adds. “It’s such an easy thing for us to do and to be able to share whatever gift and whatever we have is such a pleasure, especially with kids.”