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Craig Campbell fights colorectal cancer with Cornhole Challenge

Craig Campbell fights colorectal cancer with Cornhole Challenge

Raises hundreds of thousands of dollars with celebrity friends
By Preshias Harris for Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show


It was Celebrity Cornhole Challenge time in Nashville on Tuesday, June 5. The celebrities – and hundreds of fans – turned out at the City Winery to enjoy a warm, pre-CMA-Fest afternoon of fun for a good cause: to raise aware and funds for Fight Colorectal Cancer (Fight CRC).  This is a cause very close to my own heart. My brother Shannon died from colorectal cancer at the age of 39 and his death could have been prevented simply by a colonoscopy.

In case you are not familiar with cornhole, it is a game in which small bags filled with dried corn or beans are tossed at a target consisting of an inclined wooden platform with a hole at one end.  Points are scored when a contestant tosses his or her corn bag into the hole (3 points) or onto the board (1 point). The game was said to originate in Germany in the 14th century and was revived by settlers in Kentucky in the 19th century.

Craig’s new single: ‘See You Try’

The annual Celebrity Cornhole Challenge is organized by Craig Campbell who is recognized for his ‘new-school’ take on classic Country. On June 8, Craig releases his first new collection in five years, an EP titled SEE YOU TRY (Broken Bow Records).  The title song, ‘See You Try,’ is also Craig’s new single, written by Tyler Hubbard (Florida Georgia Line), Bart Butler, James McNair and Jordan Schmidt.

Craig was joined by LOCASH, Walker Hayes, Brett Kissel, Russell Dickerson, Jerrod Niemann, Brett Young, Lindsay Eli, Tegan Marie, Morgan Mills, Taylor Phillips, Dee Jay Silver, The Cadillac Three and other celebrities who tried their cornhole skill (or lack of it) to entertain the fans who cheered them on.

During a break in the action, I asked Craig, how did this event come about?

“Six years ago, I wanted an event that honored my dad,” said Craig.  “He was 36 years old when he died of colon cancer, so I thought, what can I do to honor him? And to have fun and do something different, you know? A lot of people are having free concerts, golf tournaments, fishing tournaments.  But no-one is having a cornhole tournament. So then, I thought it was a pretty cool play on the whole corn hole / colon, that sort of thing! So that’s how it all started.  Now we’re at year number six and I feel it’s just getting bigger and better.”

Brett Kissel talks about Garth and Brad

As Brett Kissel took a break to grab a bottle of cold water, I asked him how it felt when he opened for Garth Brooks, the dream of every singer and songwriter.

“It was the best thing I’ve ever been able to do in my career,” he said. “I’ll tell you, every night that I got to step out on stage to perform and open the show, and then a few times when I got to be on stage and sing with Garth in front of his crowd, I’m telling you Preshias, that was exactly what Cloud Nine feels like! I believe that there are moments that are similar to what heaven could feel like, and that was like a heavenly moment.”

“And I’ll tell you a Brad Paisley story,” added Brett, recalling another unforgettable moment.  “My first trip to Nashville was about 2003 or 2004. I went to ASCAP to meet with a gentleman named Ralph Murphy who is a big advocate for international acts who come to Nashville and are trying to get their foot in the door. I was just about to turn fourteen years old and after my three o’clock meeting, he said ‘stick around because at five o’clock Brad Paisley is coming in and we’re throwing a Number One party for him.’ So Ralph introduced me to Brad. His Number One song at that time was ‘Mud on the Tire’ and Brad took a picture with me and he gave me an autograph that said ‘To Brett. I’ll save you a spot on my tour.’ Fast forward ten years, and in 2014, 2015 and 2016, I got to go out on the road with Brad Paisley!”

(Brett’s family has also had to deal with the effects of cancer, making his appearance at this event a very personal one.  Knowing that I am a survivor of the same type of cancer, Brett asked that we have our photo taken together for this article.)


Tegan Marie’s new single

At fourteen years old, Tegan Marie was the youngest competitor in the Cornhole Challenge. Now signed to Warner Music Nashville, she has just released her new single, ‘I Know How to Make a Boy Cry’ that she co-wrote with Nathan Chapman. She is scheduled for numerous appearances during CMA Fest 18.

I asked Tegan how she felt, competing in the Cornhole Challenge with all these crazy men.

“Craig is one of my dearest friends,” she said. “I love him so much. I’m just here to get my game on and to help raise money to fight cancer.”

Craig Campbell’s Cornhole Challenge has raised more than $300,000 to help fight colorectal cancer, and Tuesday’s event was set to add even more to the fund the efforts at Fight CRC. Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death among both men and women. The organization hopes to increase awareness that early detection through colonoscopies can save lives.

If you’d like to know who won the Cornhole Celebrity Challenge, it was… Craig Campbell! But the real winner is Fight CRC, who receive all the funds raised by this event.

(I can personally attest to that: If my brother Shannon had undergone a colonoscopy, they could have caught his colorectal cancer in the very early stages and his life would have been saved. However, his health insurance would not pay for the procedure due to his young age.  Colonoscopies save lives! – Preshias)

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