Cole Swindell has been hearing about St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for years now, and in early 2017 he experienced the hope the hospital brings to families firsthand during a visit. Swindell says he is a strong believer in the hospital's motto, "Everything happens for a reason," and plans to use his platform as a musician to raise awareness for St. Jude.

Speaking with Taste of Country and other media outlets on site at the hospital's headquarters in Memphis, Tenn., the singer said he quickly learned how fortunate he is to have his health and discussed how powerful his visit had been.

"I've had the chance to meet families with children who are sick and it's heartbreaking," he tells Taste of Country. "Being at a place like this to see how positive it is . . . it's almost like you have to be here to have that experience. They're going through things that I can't even imagine. I know how fortunate I am and my family are to be healthy. The fact that I can spend some time and try to put a smile on a kid's face or just to see how dedicated everybody is here to cure childhood cancer is so inspiring."

Swindell admits that he is upset he hadn't visited St. Jude's sooner. Like the hospital's motto, though, he believes he was there for a reason now.

"I think I'm at a point in my career now that I can help out more than I ever could," he reasons. "I'm blessed to have the platform I have and I'm going to spread the word. There's a lot of great causes, but I don't know anything that hits you harder than a child being sick. It's not fair, they don't deserve it. I'm ready to know what I can do to help."

During his tour of the hospital, a mother with a sick little girl recognized the singer and approached him. She shared with him that her husband had died a few years ago, and his song "You Should Be Here" reminds her of him. Her two older daughters also admire the song and since they don't have their father around for their special day, they plan on playing "You Should Be Here" at their weddings when they marry.

"That's one of those moments you don't forget. I've had some success with songs before but nothin' like the stories I've heard [with 'You Should Be Here']. To know that something I've written and sang about a personal experience has helped people with sick children or lost their husband . . . ," he says reflecting. "St. Jude, they allow these families to have more moments than they would have and that's powerful."

On Feb. 16-17, 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 fourth year, this collaborative effort has raised nearly $3.9 million. Country radio has helped raise more than $550 million during 27 years worth of Country Cares radiothons. The mission is simple: raise money, save lives.

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