PITTSBURG — Pittsburg native Barry Dean is living his dream as a songwriter — and has earned Grammy nominations and Country Music Awards

But, before becoming a professional songwriter he started a new journey with his family — they welcomed a little girl who was born 16 weeks early named Katherine.

Because his daughter was premature she needed care in the neonatal intensive care unit at Freeman Health System in Joplin.
This was when Dean and his family — who were Pittsburg residents at the time — realized they had to make a decision to be closer to their daughter.

They learned about the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Four States, which was conveniently placed near the hospital, he said.

“There it was, it’s an amazing thing,” he said. “The sharing of a great idea, of great people, doing great things … it was a godsend — amazing.”

Dean said he met other families, who understood what each other were going through.
Dean said he remembers one family in particular, who had a little boy, whom his son Alex played with in the playroom.

“The parents know what each other is going through without having to explain,” he said. “Some know what your world is like … I’m sure this was really helpful for Alex.”

A few years later after Katherine was born, Dean and his family moved to Nashville to continue to pursue his career as a songwriter.

For the charity’s service to his family and others, Dean said he would like to give back to the charity through the Nashville Songwriters Night at PSU at 7:30 p.m. on November 11 at the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts.

Dean will be bringing other musical guests from Nashville including Grammy Award-winning songwriter Jennifer Schott — another Pittsburg native — as well as Grammy Award-winning songwriters Lori McKenna and Luke Laird.

Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Four States Executive Director Annette Thurston said Crawford County rates at the top of the numbers of families which stay at the Ronald McDonald House in Kansas.

She said the charity is privately-funded and although McDonald’s is one of the key partners, it provides only about 15 percent of the funds. About 80 percent comes from individuals and businesses.

All of the proceeds from the songwriters night will go to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Four States.

According to a release, if the concert is sold out, it will fund operational expenses for one month and if 500 attendees make a donation in the lobby before or after the concert of $20 each — the cost for a family to stay two nights at the Ronald McDonald House — it would cover nearly three years.
Dean thanked the concert's sponsors which include Mpix and Watco Companies, as well as Creative Planning of Leawood, Kansas. Pitsco and PSU also are providing in-kind sponsorship.

Tickets are $20 in advance, or $25 at the door. Tickets are available online at www.bicknellcenter.com or by calling the PSU Ticket Office at 620-235-4796.

— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at spotter@morningsun.net or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.