Abby Anderson says she's going to turn off the music for a little while as she runs the St. Jude Rock 'n' Roll half marathon this weekend in Nashville. Her two hour journey through Music Row and downtown is a great time to reflect on the cause and soak up the support.

This run is known for its hills and the party that takes place on the sidelines, especially as racers weave through Belmont University neighborhoods.

"That's what I love about it!" Anderson tells Taste of Country. "It's eight in the morning and you have people hanging out on their yards and cheering you on, holding up signs. It's awesome."

This is Anderson's fifth time running the St. Jude Nashville marathon, but the seasoned runner has done others in her home state of Kansas. Now part of the Bobby Bones Show, she's had the chance to learn more about St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, where no patient or family ever receives a bill for treatment, care, food, housing or travel.

Several years ago during the pre-race spaghetti dinner, she had what many call her "St. Jude moment." Patients and special guests spoke, and songwriters played for racers and their support groups.

"In that moment, the smiles and the energy and everybody gathering together for a good cause," she says, "that is when I knew that it's so much greater than just us."

That same energy is what so many take away from St. Jude, even after receiving medical care. In 2021, Anderson — not to be confused with the country singer of the same name — is a St. Jude Hero, meaning she's raising money for the research hospital, a world-renowned facility that freely shares all breakthroughs with other institutions worldwide. She's still taking donations and will be even after she finishes the Saturday morning (Nov. 20) race.

Additionally, Anderson will sing the national anthem before the run, something she admits she's very nervous about. A career in country music is on the back burner for now, she admits, although she did get some stage time with Bobby Bones' Raging Idiots recently in Witchita, Kan.

"I would love to be in a band, maybe like a trio," she says, laughing. But first, she wants to run the 13.1 miles in under two hours.

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