Although 8 a.m. is early in the music industry, 23 incredible stars rose and shined on Saturday to be a part of a cause much bigger than them: The 25th Annual City of Hope Celebrity Softball Game. While spectators come to watch their favorite country music singers, the celebrities selflessly played for hope.
Radio personality Bobby Bones from The Bobby Bones Show says it perfectly: “There are superstars that are taking time out of their morning. They don’t have to be here but because of what this represents, not a softball game, but the cause, everybody’s happy to wake up and come play.”
Tears ran as Nashville native Stephen Bess shared his story of receiving lifesaving treatment for acute lymphocytic leukemia on the jumbotron before the game. Moments later, Bess’ donor from nine time zones away came up behind and the two embraced for the first time. This touching moment would not have been possible without City of Hope.
Bess said that people like his donor are the cure.
Love and Theft members Stephen Barker Liles and Eric Gunderson returned to the game this year playing on opposing teams. Though opponents on the field, they both played for the same reason. Gunderson says, “City of Hope is an amazing organization. The game is raising money for a great cause for research for cancer and diabetes and anything we can do to be a part of that we will. My mom’s a cancer survivor and I’m a diabetic.”
Artist SaraBeth returned for her third year. She explained, “everyone here has been affected by cancer, diabetes, and other life-threatening diseases that City of Hope raises money for, and so what better way to use CMA Fest than to give back and have fun, meet fans, and play with my friends. It’s a great organization.”
The camaraderie out on the field was undeniable and the celebrities certainly know how to have a good time. Singer Bucky Covington came ready to play. Covington believes “it’s always fun anytime you take a bunch of celebrities and put them together in one spot and let them goof off a little bit.”
Bones, who supports the cause on and off the field, says “eighty percent of us are already really good friends. We all know each other and work together all the time, but we rarely ever get to all hangout at the same time.” Singer Lindsay Ell concurs, “it’s really cool for us to play softball together because often times as musicians we don’t really have time to catch up and hangout. Whenever one person’s in town the other is on the road, so the fact that we can all hangout and catch up, it’s a really fun day for us.”
Artist JT Hodges, who relied on “supreme athletic ability” to get him through the game, explains why he played for the first time: “It’s a no-brainer. To come out here with some friends, goof off, and raise a ton of money for such a great cause, I mean who wouldn’t. All the trash talking aside we’re all just having fun. We know what we’re here for and it’s a good time.”
This year’s game was certainly a success and fun for all.