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Nashville Moment with Kevin Carter & Jay DeMarcus

Coming into its 16th year, Waiting for Wishes is the brainchild of former Tennessee Titans player Kevin Carter.

Written By:  Erin B. Murray

Photographers:  Supplied

Kevin Carter & Jay DeMarcus, Philanthropists

Coming into its 16th year, Waiting for Wishes is the brainchild of former Tennessee Titans player Kevin Carter. The longstanding charity dinner, held every year at The Palm to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Kevin Carter Foundation, invites celebrity actors, athletes, and musicians from Nashville and beyond to serve as the evening’s waiters and bar staff. With each passing year, the dinner has become increasingly more entertaining (and lucrative), especially now that Rascal Flatts’ member Jay DeMarcus is a key member of the planning committee—and after-party.

Pre-meal: “When I was playing for the St. Louis Rams, there was a group of old Cardinals’ players that used to do an event like this, and they were heroes in that community,” Kevin Carter says. When he got to Tennessee and didn’t see anyone doing anything like it, he says, “I immediately jumped on it. And, from there, the rest is history. Each year, it’s grown bigger and bigger.”

Wishful thinking: “There are so many great causes, but I’ve always wanted to enrich the lives of children in any fashion or form possible—that is my personal mission statement,” Carter says. “I am impressed with Make-A-Wish as an organization because of the amount of money they give, as in cents on the dollar. They didn’t have a big chapter at the time; they were in need. It was sort of a match made in heaven.”

Now, a child ambassador who has been through the Make-A-Wish program appears at the annual dinner. As for the location, which hasn’t changed in 16 years, Carter says, “The Palm knocks it out of the park every time.”

Help from his friends: Carter met Jay DeMarcus through a love of music—they met while attending a KISS concert together with mutual friends. “Later, after Jay had come to the event, we were playing golf and he told me he was so touched by what we were doing and that he wanted to be a part of it.

He pretty much overstepped all boundaries when it came to creative control of this event,” Carter laughs. “It’s made me a better person,” DeMarcus adds. “It’s probably the thing I look forward to the most throughout the year—it’s something that makes all the long days and all the hard nights worth it.”

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Dinner with the stars: “This is an event that all of Nashville jumps in and takes part in,” DeMarcus says—but Carter is quick to add that its appeal has spread beyond Music City. “The celebrities are from all over—we have [UFC fighter] Tito Ortiz, [actor] Steven Dorff, and [actor] Michael Cudlitz coming. They’ve all jumped in head first and given themselves to the cause,” Carter says. Over the years, the “waiters” have delighted guests, too, from Carter playing saxophone to LeAnn Rimes serenading the room. “We have made some really great memories,” Carter adds.

Waiting for Wishes is April 18; kevin-carter.com/waiting-for-wishes.

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