What started as a one-time donation to the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt U. in Nashville has turned into a long affiliation that has changed not only the lives of Rascal Flatts’ members, but also those of the hundreds of children who have benefitted from their generosity.Several years ago, the group sat down to discuss ways to give back. The country music industry has long supported St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, but “we decided we wanted to give back to our own community and we quickly figured out we had this magical place in our hometown,” says Rascal Flatts’ Jay DeMarcus. “We saw the amazing stuff they were doing over there and the research and how passionate the great staff was and it just made sense for us.” The initial donation turned into a multi-year commitment. “Every visit really cemented what we were doing there,” DeMarcus says. “That’s what led us down the path to keep giving.” The band has given more than $3 million to Children’s Hospital and pledged to gift more over the coming years. In appreciation, the hospital’s pediatric surgical wing is named the Rascal Flatts Surgery Center. Much of the money Rascal Flatts donates will also go toward researching the science of how to eliminate premature births, DeMarcus says. The trio gives more than its money, it also gives its time, hosting Halloween parties at the hospital, going room to room to visit the children, and performing an intimate concert for the patients each year. The members of Rascal Flatts also serve as ambassadors for the Red Cross. “We’ve been involved with them for many years. We just try to create awareness for them and educate people,” DeMarcus says, stressing that the Red Cross is international and the organization’s role extends far beyond aiding after disasters.
• Rascal Flatts: You can leave you hat off