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Big & Rich Dedicate Infusion Room In Katie Darnell's Memory

  Big and Rich
  Big Kenny Alphin and John Rich
  Big and Rich
  Katie Darnel with Big & Rich

Country duo Big & Rich brought a small version of their Wild West Show to the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt recently as they performed a set of songs for patients and honored the memory of their friend, Katie Darnell.
The performance of Big Kenny Alphin and John Rich on June 12 was video recorded for the upcoming "CMA Music Festival: Country Music's Biggest Party" television special to air on ABC (WKRN-Channel 2) from 8 p.m.-10 p.m. on Aug. 2.

During the special event, Kenny and John helped dedicate an infusion room in the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center to Katie, whose determined brain cancer battle inspired "Live This Life" which appears on the duo’s latest album Horse of a Different Color.

Katie wrote "Rescue Me," which the duo has 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 called a fitting tribute for Katie: a butterfly-shaped plaque that will be inscribed with Katie’s name and hung in the butterfly garden at Vanderbilt Children’s. Katie often compared herself to a butterfly, saying cancer had changed her and given her a chance to transform into something beautiful.

The performance and dedication coincidentally occurred on the second anniversary of Katie's death. Margaret Darnell, Katie’s mother, said that the doctors and nurses at Vanderbilt Children’s had become like family to them. She thanked Big & Rich for sharing Katie’s memory 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." Kenny also talked about the need to raise the public's level of awareness of cancer in an effort to find a cure. "Anything we can do to stomp it out, we're going to do in a Big & Rich style."

It was in 2000 that the nation had the opportunity to get to know the girl who loved butterflies and could whip out lyrics to a song “like pouring water onto paper from a glass.” It was that December when she met John and “Big” Kenny. The recording artists had come to Vanderbilt Children’s to sing holiday songs to the patients. Katie brought out the paper on which she had written the words to “Rescue Me.” The rest is, as they say, history.

-- by Carole Bartoo