This year the Country Cares arm of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital's fundraising celebrates its 26th year. Randy Owen has been the face of a platform that has included hundreds of country radio stations and raised over $600 million. He says he has a successor in mind, and a goal to hit before he steps away.

“I want $1 billion,” Owen told Taste of Country last fall during an event at the Grand Ole Opry. But he's quick to point out that even more important than money, is time.

“So many people give money and then they walk away. What’s really important for something like this is to give money and to not go away.”

It took the Alabama lead singer a long time to become comfortable with the adulation coming his way as St. Jude's most famous country face. It happened again just recently with a family in Iowa.

"They were able to spend five more years with their little child, and they were so nice and they were grateful," he said.

“For a long time it was very hard for me, and then I thought about it in terms of my dad. If I could spend two weeks more with my dad … Oh my Lord! No wonder people come up and hug my neck.”

For now, Owen isn't saying who he's eyeing as his successor. He's got an eye on him, watching to make sure he has his heart in the right place. The 65-year-old will continue to carry on St. Jude founder Danny Thomas' mission: "No child should die in the dawn of life."

On March 5-6 Taste of Country has partnered with 16 Townsquare Media-owned radio stations to raise money and awareness for St. Jude. Help Owen keep Thomas' dream alive by becoming a Partner in Hope by clicking the button below.

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