NFL veteran and Super Bowl Champion, Kevin Carter and co-host Jay DeMarcus of Rascal Flatts hosted the Grand Finale of “Waiting for Wishes” Celebrity Waiters Dinner at the Hilton Nashville Downtown on Tuesday, April 19, 2022.

Kevin Carter, Tim McGraw and Jay DeMarcus

The star-studded event benefited The Kevin Carter Foundation and Make-A-Wish Middle Tennessee. The event series, which concluded with this Grand Finale, has raised $2.5 million to help grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions through Make-A-Wish of Middle Tennessee.

The celebrity event, emceed by former WKRN’s John Dwyer (for all 20 years) was an exclusive, VIP evening where hosts Carter and DeMarcus invited professional athletes, country music artists and various celebrities from all over the country to wait tables, followed by the Official After-Party – Jammin’ with Jay DeMarcus & Friends, emceed by SiriusXM The Highway’s Storme Warren. DeMarcus showcased his new band Generation Radio as part of the after-party event.

Now a CBS Sports Network analyst, Kevin Carter said of the conclusion of the event series, “Being able to host this event for 20 years is a testament to the divine synergy that we’ve had from the start. It’s one of the things I am most proud of in my life to have accomplished and I am so very thankful for the team around me, the celebrities that attend each year, volunteers, patrons and the incredible folks at Make-A-Wish. But make no mistake, we are not finished with fundraising. We have simply wrapped up an event that has been 20 years in the making. We’re now going to retool and come back with a new concept so that we can be the most affecting giving vessel moving forward. Nashville has been so good to me, I simply love this city and the special people that live here.”

The event was one of the most unique celebrity events in the country, considered a “must attend” event for patrons and celebrities alike. Over fifty celebrities joined in to wait tables, sign autographs, pose for photos and perform at the after-party. An eclectic mix of celebrities in attendance included:

Music artists Tim McGraw, Charles Esten, Jillian Cardarelli, Halfway to Hazard and Jason Scheff (Chicago band) were joined by athletes George Kittle (NFL/49ers), Shawn Johnson East (Olympic Gymnast), former Tennessee Titans players Blaine Bishop, Keith Bulluck, Eddie George, Brad Hopkins, Jevon Kearse, Derrick Mason, Samari Rolle, former NFL players Andrew East, Donnie Edwards, Trent Green, Brian Jones, Aaron Murray, Ricky Proehl, Tony Richardson, as well as Tito Ortiz (UFC), Houston Nutt (Hall of Fame Coach/CBS Sports). Hollywood actors C. Thomas Howell (The Outsiders), Martin Kove (Cobra Kia/Netflix), Max Martini (Tender Bar/Amazon Prime), Ross Marquand (The Walking Dead), Rob Mayes (John Dies at the End), Mindy Robinson, Jonathan Schaech (That Thing You Do), D.B. Sweeney (Lonesome Dove) and Billy Zapka (Cobra Kai/Netflix) were joined by reality stars Kaitlyn Bristowe (The Bachelorette/Dancing with the Stars), Chase Chrisley (Chrisley Knows Best), Kathryn Edwards (actress/Housewives of Beverly Hills), and Jason Tartick (The Bachelorette). Sports media personalities included Sherree Burruss (CBS Sports), Jay Harris and Hannah Storm (ESPN SportsCenter), Tom Luginbill (ESPN), Lisa Salters (ESPN), Brent Stover (CBS), Stephanie White (ESPN) and former Navy Seals / movie consultants Shad “Hammer” Hamilton and Hugh Middleton.

“In 2005, I joined as co-host and I had no idea what this event would become,” said Jay DeMarcus. “I’m humbled and honored that Kevin even considered me to be involved. It’s been one of the most important things of my career. Rascal Flatts were together for 22 years and I’ve been with this event for nearly 20 years. I got emotional thinking about this event coming to an end, but I am grateful for the relationship I have with Kevin. He’s not only big in stature; his heart is equally as big.”

The Waiting for Wishes Celebrity Waiters Dinner event series was the product of a relationship that goes back to 2001 when Kevin Carter joined the Tennessee Titans and met fellow employee, Tresa Halbrooks, who directed Community Relations for the team (2001-2012). Halbrooks helped Carter to form the Kevin Carter Foundation in 2001, and, the following year produced the first event. In 2012, she formed LEGACY Consulting, PR & Events, becoming an award-winning event producer and has produced this event for Kevin Carter and Jay DeMarcus for the entire duration of the series – all 20 years.

The Kevin Carter Foundation will make a donation to Make-A-Wish Middle Tennessee, the primary beneficiary of “Waiting for Wishes” with the proceeds of the event. Make-A-Wish Middle Tennessee grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.

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