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14th annual gospel sing to benefit St. Jude hospital
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14th annual St. Jude gospel sing
What: Two nights of gospel singing to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
Where: Georgia Mountains Center, Gainesville
When: Tonight, bluegrass: Doors open at 5:30 p.m., singing starts at 7; Saturday, gospel: Doors open at 4:30 p.m., singing starts at 6
For more information: www.tntgospelmusic.com

Nearly 20 years ago, Peggy and Stanley Pierce’s lives were touched by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
They’ve spent the last 14 trying to give back.

In what’s become an annual fundraiser, the Pierce’s 14th annual gospel sing opens tonight, featuring big names on the Southern Gospel circuit.

The show is free, but each night, the Pierces take up a “love offering” for St. Jude.

It’s an event that keeps the memory of their son, Craig Pierce, alive, and benefits the hospital that helped the family in one of its darkest hours.

Craig died in July 1983 after a battling acute myeloid leukemia, which normally affects adults.

Craig was 10.

In the years since Craig’s death, the chances of survival for acute myeloid leukemia and acute lymphocytic leukemia, which largely affects children, have improved.

Stanley Pierce attributes that improvement to the research that St. Jude does.

But he also wants to support the way the hospital cares for families.

The hospital gives both parents and children a place to stay during their treatments.

And families never have to pay for the care they receive.

“The kids that are there, you can see so much improvement and the treatments have come so far,” he said.

The daily operating cost for St. Jude is $1.7 million, which is primarily covered by public contributions, according to the hospital’s website.

That fact makes Stanley Pierce want to help even more.

He chose a gospel singing for the fundraiser some 14 years ago, because he has a background in singing and recording gospel songs.

And while he never steals the show from the headliners, he said he usually sings for a while during the “love offering.”

“What I tell everybody is that I’m going to sing until we get enough money,” he said.

In the past, the “love offering” at the Pierce family’s gospel sing has netted the hospital between $25,000 and $30,000 each year, Stanley Pierce said.

In its 14th year, this year’s benefit is bigger, with two nights of singing instead of one.

Tonight’s for the bluegrass fans. Saturday is for those who like regular Southern Gospel.

But no matter your tastes, Stanley Pierce promises that the entertainers are “the best you can get.”

“I’m really expecting big crowds for both nights,” he said.

And if the crowds in the past are any testament — last year, the crowds met the Georgia Mountains Center’s capacity — Stanley Pierce might just be right.

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