Written by Clark Beckham, Musician, Recording Artist, American Idol Season 14 Runner-Up and Rally Idol 2 Judge
This blog post originally appeared on rallyfoundation.org
Minor edits have been made by Yours Truly
I was born in Nashville, Tennessee, and have been playing music for as long as I can remember. Growing up, I played music on street corners (a perk of growing up in the Music City!) and in church. After graduating with a history degree from Lee University, I auditioned for American Idol and went on to finish as the runner-up of season 14. Through that experience, I became good friends with fellow American Idols Haley Reinhart and Casey Abrams.
Last year, Haley reached out to me about participating in Rally Idol. She told me that it was a fundraiser for a childhood cancer research organization. The cause was good and the company was good, so of course I said yes. Now, having experienced Rally Idol, I would say yes even if Haley and Casey were a couple thousand miles away. What a night! I have not recovered from the experience, and I hope that I never do.
Kids affected by cancer took the stage as “Rally Idols” and performed their hearts out. I’m embarrassed to say that I was prepared to muster up fake positive reactions to the performances if need be, but all of the performers were truly really, really good. I was blown away by their talent and performing ability. To be able to smile and lift other people up, despite what they’ve gone through and are still going through, is inspiring. During rehearsal and backstage, the kids were constantly encouraging one another and getting each other excited for the performances. They exude such a pureness of heart and have a better perspective on life, and the world, than we do. They all had an astronomical impact on me.
The best part of this event though was learning about Rally Kid Smiley Kylie. It wasn’t until the morning of the event, during rehearsal, that I found out about the special connection that we have. During my season of American Idol, Kylie was away from her siblings for harsh cancer treatment. Watching each week’s competition was the highlight of her treatment-filled week, and I’m humbled to say that I was her favorite. Our weekly “dates” brought great joy to Kylie and her family even after doctors told them that there was nothing more they could do to help her beat cancer.
Having Kylie’s mom and sister, who performed at the event, share this with me was the most impactful part of Rally Idol for me. What I’m about to say could be taken as hyperbole, but I mean it with all my heart. If I never accomplish anything ever again, I’ll be okay. As a musician, I hope that my music impacts people, or that just maybe they see God in me and are drawn to the ultimate Light that He is. I had no idea that my impact could reach the magnitude that it did with Kylie and her family during their darkest days. I consider my life a success because of this, and I wear the Smiley for Kylie bracelet that her family gave me every single day. I actually have not taken it off since they gave it to me at Rally Idol.
Now that I am back home, I am focused on writing and recording. I hope to release some new music this year. I actually just recorded a song the other day.
Joining Haley, Casey and Anthony at the Rally Idol judges’ table is one of the most important things that I have done in years. I guarantee that I was much more blessed by Rally and the kids than I was able to bless anyone by being there. It is my hope that you will learn more about these awesome kids and get inspired as much as I did and join Rally as they fight against childhood cancer.
If you are inspired by this story, I’m inviting you to donate to Rally Foundation and help children in America in their fight against childhood cancer.