It was six or seven years between St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital visits for Trace Adkins, but during a January tour the singer opened up about the difficult reason for his break.

Adkins — who will perform at Country Jam 2016 this summer — was one of a dozen or so country stars who toured the children’s hospital and visited with kids during Country Cares this year. He first got involved with the Memphis, Tenn.-based hospital because his mother told him about a local Louisiana girl years ago. An unplanned visit led to more planned visits, and throughout the years Adkins says he’d hang out with her at the Ronald McDonald House and elsewhere.

“Then I lost her and I haven’t been back for a few years now,” he adds somberly. “So I’m back.”

Adkins' return was a happy experience, however. Country Cares is a weekend dedicated to priming hundreds of radio stations nationwide for their radiothons in 2016. Randy Owen of Alabama helped St. Jude co-founder Danny Thomas start Country Cares in 1989, and since then more than $550 million has been raised from country music fans. Every year artists like Adkins return to tour and spread the St. Jude message. That’s in addition to work done throughout the year.

Another sobering part of Adkins' conversation with select media came when he was asked how he approaches children at the hospital and elsewhere. He can be scary, the “Jesus and Jones” singer admits. Some kids cry.

“The only kids I don’t scare are my own, really,” Adkins says. “And it always breaks my heart, I walk up ‘Hey!’ and the kid starts crying.” Smiles patch up the nature of his conversation, but it’s clear that the day has been a long, emotional one for Adkins. He tells his fans to donate because of the great, life-saving work being done at St. Jude, and because of the inspiring things that happen between the colorful hospital walls.

“St. Jude is a beautiful, beautiful place. I mean that in every way.”

On March 3 and 4, Taste of Country will join 15 Townsquare Media stations in support of the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. This two-day web and radiothon aims to raise money and awareness for the world class research and treatment facility in Memphis, Tenn. Now in its third year, this collaborative effort has raised nearly $2.5 million. Country radio has helped raise more than $550 million during 26 years worth of Country Cares radiothons. The mission is simple: raise money, save lives.

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