Russell Dickerson recently chatted with mom Anna and her 13-year-old son, Ian, who has been a longtime patient of St. Jude’s Children’s hospital. For many families, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital often becomes a home away from home, as families must stay there for extended periods while children are treated. Dickerson understands the notion of making home wherever one’s loved ones are, as he sings about it in his tune, “Home Sweet.” The singer sat down with the family to talk about the process of making St. Jude Children’s Hospital home.
“It’s not just, ‘Hey, come in and get treated,’” said Dickerson in the video call with the family. “It’s, ‘Hey, come in and we’ll make it feel like the least amount of uprooting, make it feel as normal as possible, just to preserve that ‘Home Sweet,’ really.’”
Anna agreed, sharing that with all the activities and games the hospital provides, being there for an extended amount of time is like being at a home away from home. The family first started bringing Ian to the hospital for treatment for his rare brain tumor when he was just 16 months old.
“We used to joke and say it’s kind of like a cruise ship,” said Anna on the call. “You wake up every morning and go see what the activities are for the day. We hated to be away from home, but then again we had home away from home.”
Dickerson continued, sharing that he was initially hesitant to visit the hospital, assuming it would be a place of sadness. However, what he found is a place where children with life threatening illnesses can still laugh and be children.
“It was full of joy, it was full of hope, it was full of excitement for life,” he shared. “I’m covered in chills now just reminiscing this time of when we walked in there.”
“These families and these kids are grateful for this day only. They’re grateful for right here, right now. That is just what knocked me off my feet, was this joy, this gratitude for today,” he said.
“We had a craft session. We made hats and we decorated and we glued and glittered,” he continued. “They were just so happy to be in that moment.”
Dickerson has even performed for the children being treated at St. Jude Children’s Hospital, which he says was a natural thing for him to do.
“That’s honestly how I got my start,” he said of playing for kids. “I grew up in church, and I played for my youth group. Then I also played for the kids’ church. I’d go down to where all the kids were coming to church and I would play just fun, jump, go-crazy songs.”
Anna also shared that she and Ian were so comfortable at St. Jude that Ian didn’t even realize he was at a hospital. He shared this revelation with his mom when they went to another hospital to visit someone.
“We were like, ‘We’re going to have to go to a hospital today. You know, like St. Jude,’” she recalled to Dickerson. “He was like, ‘St. Jude’s a hospital?’”
Although Dickerson can’t relate to having a child in the hospital, he can relate to being a parent who would do anything for their child, as he and his wife welcomed their son, Remington, last year.
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