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John Rich and Michael Ray Salute St. Jude After Marathon’s Postponement

These country stars made the best of a bad situation!

Written by Chris Parton
John Rich and Michael Ray Salute St. Jude After Marathon’s Postponement
John Rich and Michael Ray; Screenshots courtesy of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

With tens of thousands of runners taking part each year, the St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville Marathon & ½ Marathon has become a yearly highlight that raises millions for kids battling cancer. So despite this year’s event getting postponed, a few country stars kept the positivity going.

Originally planned for April 25 – 26, the 2020 marathon weekend was scratched due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic — but that didn’t stop St. Jude’s “Heroes” from doing some much-needed good. The Heroes are people from all across the country who help raise funds and awareness for the famous St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital through fitness events — ensuring that no family has to pay as they fight for their child’s survival. Ten million dollars have been raised in nine years of the hospital serving as the marathon’s title partner, and even without a race, supporters like John Rich, Michael Ray and King Calaway helped bring in another $1 million this year.

On Sunday (April 26) hundreds of St. Jude Heroes across the nation tuned in for exclusive, virtual performances from Rich and Ray, with the country stars delivering hits like Ray’s “Her World or Mine” and “Think a Little Less,” as well as Big & Rich’s marathon-appropriate “Run Away With You.”

“It’s an honor to perform for these St. Jude Heroes despite this year’s St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville Marathon being postponed,” Ray said before the event, which also included a virtual run and a video chat with a very special patient. “This incredible group deserves to be celebrated for the work they’ve put in to support St. Jude so that they can continue to provide families and children with the care they need.”

“Any time I get to sing and support the work St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is doing, I jump at the chance!” Rich agreed. “This will be a little different playing for them virtually, but the love I have for them remains the same and I will give it everything I’ve got! The ‘research’ part of what this hospital does is what sets it apart from every other place in the world. They freely share the breakthroughs they discover with literally everyone in the world, so in effect, when you give to St. Jude you are giving to every child on our planet who may be stricken with cancer. They are doing God’s work, and I’m proud to be a strong supporter! Let the music begin!”

Newcomers King Calaway sung the national anthem before the Heroes started their virtual run, but that’s not all. After the band became friends with a young patient named Londyn and her family at a recent ACM Awards, bassist Austin Luther registered to run and fundraise as a St. Jude Hero in this year’s race. And although they could not see each other in person, they were still able to reconnect via video chat this weekend, proving that even a global crisis can’t dampen these kids spirits.

There’s no word yet on when the St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville Marathon & ½ Marathon will be rescheduled.