"This event is to help parents not have to worry about where the money is coming from and be able to concentrate on their child who has to be at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital," Dierks told The Boot in an interview prior to the ride. "There are enough prayers to go around, but if they can pray for the health of their child and not worry about the money, then that is so much better for them."
The singer's daughter Evie, who just turned one, was born at Monroe Carell Jr. Childrens Hospital at Vanderbilt, so Dierks says there's a little more meaning in the ride for him these days. "Last year, I arrived here for the ride just a few hours after she was born," he says. "Cassidy and I are so thankful she is healthy, but there are many other children out there who need our help."
Dierks has raised more than $500,000 for the facility through the help of his fans and the participation of numerous celebrities over the years. Gunning it beside him at the head of the line this year were Troy Gentry of Montgomery Gentry and Wynonna. A first time rider this year was country newcomer Ash Bowers, who said he was pleased to take part in the charity event.
"This is such a great thing that Dierks is doing. I think as adults, we can take care of our own needs, but when it comes to the kids, we need to help out whenever we can," Ash told The Boot. "I am happy to be able to take part in it."
The ride left Cool Springs and wound through the rolling hills south of Nashville, then circled back to the downtown area where fans were treated to a concert by Dierks and fellow performers including Wynonna, Heidi Newfield, Michelle Branch, Darius Rucker and Eric Church. The concert turned into a jam, with performers joining each other onstage to sing harmonies and play with their friends.
This is the first year that Dierks is taking his Miles & Music on the road. He will hold one event in his hometown of Phoenix on Nov. 21. "I don't know who all will be at that one, but anyone who wants to come out there is welcome," he says. "I just talked to Jessi Colter the other day, who still lives in the area. The weather is perfect out there at that time of year for something like this, so we'll just see who all shows up."
Dierks has joined forces with Nationwide Insurance, CMT ONE COUNTRY and the Children's Miracle Network in order to expand the his ride to six cities across the country in 2009 and 2010, with all proceeds benefiting Children's Miracle Network hospitals in those areas.