Carrie UnderwoodSeveral of country music's biggest names donated their time and talents this past weekend (Jan. 14-16), participating in the 21st annual Country Cares for St. Jude event. More than 40 celebrities could be spotted walking the halls of the Memphis institution which has become so important in the lives of sick and terminally ill children and their families. The participating artists chatted with patients, toured the facilities and helped to raise awareness and funds for the hospital and its mission.

Carrie Underwood, Jewel, Little Big Town, Danny Gokey, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Steve Azar, Darryl Worley and Joe Nichols were on hand for the event, which was founded by former Alabama lead singer Randy Owen. "There's nothing like it," Randy says. "There's nothing like St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. There's nothing like the St. Jude Country Cares program. This is the most important thing I've done in my life besides take care of my wife and children."

In spite of the difficult circumstances patients and their families find themselves facing, Carrie Underwood says the atmosphere is anything but sad. "When you walk in the door of St. Jude, it is happy," she says. "There are pictures on the wall -- kid-created pictures -- and it is not like a hospital. It is not a cold environment."

"The one thing I noticed is that this is a happy place," adds Danny Gokey. "And you see the children and there is so much hope and optimism in their eyes."

Jewel, who returned for the second time to participate, says she's honored to be invited. "I'm a fan of this hospital and what they are able to do for children. Meeting the kids is always the most heart-warming. The experience here is overwhelming."

The 'Country Cares for St. Jude's' event has raised more than $365 million since the program began. For more information, visit