July 29, 2005

TV special to feature Children’s Hospital

Featured Image

Country duo Big & Rich perform for patients and families at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt during CMA week. The performance will air on ABC on Aug. 2 at 8 p.m.
photo by Dana Johnson

TV special to feature Children’s Hospital

From left, Don and Margaret Darnell, parents of the late Katie Darnell, were presented a plaque by Ray Dubois, M.D., Ph.D., director of the <a href='http://www.vanderbilthealth.com/cancer'>Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center</a>, naming an infusion room for Katie. John Rich and Kenny Alphin of Big & Rich wrote their song "Live This Life" in honor of Katie.
photo by Dana Johnson

Country duo Big & Rich brought a small version of their Wild West Show to the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt recently.

The pair performed a set of songs for dozens of patients and honored the memory of their friend, cancer patient Katie Darnell, who died two years ago.

Big Kenny Alphin and John Rich's performance in June was videotaped for the upcoming "CMA Music Festival: Country Music's Biggest Party" television special to air on ABC Tuesday, Aug. 2 from 8-10 p.m.

The crowd included young patients in carts, one who even arrived on a stretcher, and several in their pajamas with IV poles. The spirited acoustic session was enthusiastically received by all and was followed by a dedication ceremony.

Big & Rich helped dedicate an infusion room in the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center to their friend, Katie. She inspired "Live This Life," which appears on the duo's latest album Horse of a Different Color. Darnell wrote "Rescue Me," which they've recorded as well.

Ray DuBois, M.D., director of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, presented Big & Rich and Katie's parents with a copy of the dedication plaque that read: Dedicated in recognition of Katie Darnell — Whose determination and strength inspired the Big & Rich song "Live This Life."

John Kuttesch, M.D., associate professor of Pediatrics and Ingram Associate Professor of Cancer Research, presented the Darnells with what family members said was a fitting tribute for Katie, a butterfly-shaped plaque that will be simply inscribed with Katie's name and hung in VCH's butterfly garden. Katie had often compared herself to a butterfly, saying cancer had changed her and given her a chance to become something beautiful.

Margaret Darnell, Katie's mother, said that the doctors and nurses at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital had become family to them.

She thanked Big & Rich for taking Katie's memory and sharing it with the world.

“Big” Kenny spoke as well, remarking that "Katie would let you know she was in the room and we want to make it clear that she's still in the room."

For the eight years she was treated for cancer here, Katie Darnell captivated the staff and faculty at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital. She succumbed to recurrent brain cancer on June 12, 2003.