How Darius Rucker’s ‘Wagon Wheel’ Helped St. Jude Patient Londyn Stay Positive
Country music has an incredible ability to tap into listeners' emotions -- and, sometimes, to make the day seem just a little bit brighter. For 8-year-old Londyn, a patient at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Darius Rucker's megahit "Wagon Wheel" was the song she needed to get her through the tough days.
During the 2020 Country Cares for St. Jude Kids seminar in Memphis, Tenn., Londyn and her dad, Justin, were part of a "Meet the Patients" panel, sharing their experiences at St. Jude with the country radio programmers and industry members in attendance. Londyn was diagnosed with Stage IV neuroblastoma when she was 5 years old and underwent chemotherapy, radiation and a stem cell transplant after arriving at St. Jude.
"A lot of times when she was doing chemo and things, this type of music [is] upbeat, so these songs got her through her hardest days of chemo," Justin shared onstage, after his outgoing daughter sang a chorus of "Wagon Wheel" for the audience. "We still, to this day ... we all, laying in the bed at night, we have to sing "Wagon Wheel.""
Londyn, who is recently back at St. Jude for a new round of treatment recommended by her doctors, has gotten to meet a number of the artists whose music helped brighten her spirits during her time at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. At the 2019 ACM Awards, she interviewed, among others, Jake Owen; she's also appeared in commercials for St. Jude.
"It's nice to know that my little girl is getting to do things that we could never give her," Justin says, "and it's all because of this right here."
As for Justin and his wife, Londyn's mom? St. Jude gave them hope -- the kind that feels like a room full of people cheering that very word at you, which is what he asked the Country Cares crowd to do.
"That's the feeling that I got when we came here, was that joyous feeling that everybody's hollering 'hope' ... and we knew that St. Jude had my daughter," Justin explained in 2020. "Because of you all here, we were here at five, and now she's seven."
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