Patients help strike out cancer during CMA Music Festival

June 16, 2014 | by Dominique Grignetti

Sometimes, cancer brings people together – even if they’re not officially on the same team.

Former City of Hope patients Gavin Wolfrank and Kennedy Kraus know this firsthand. They both played in the Celebrity Softball Game to benefit City of Hope on Saturday, June 7. Playing right alongside them were some of today’s biggest stars in country music, including Florida Georgia Line, Sara Evans, Danielle Bradbery, Scotty McCreery and Alison Sweeney.

The 24th annual event, held during the CMA Music Festival, has helped raise more than $2 million for cancer research research and treatment at City of Hope.

Both Gavin and Kennedy received lifesaving bone marrow transplants at City of Hope; Gavin for acute lymphoblastic leukemia and Kennedy for severe aplastic anemia. Both understand the importance of research in combating life-threatening blood diseases.

So do their families, each of whom were in the crowd to cheer for their team and, of course, fellow ballplayers Jana Kramer, Chase Rice, Lauren Alaina, Chuck Wicks, Chip Esten and Dustin Lynch to name a few.

The Celebrity Softball Game was presented by Staples, who has been a long-standing and generous corporate supporter of City of Hope and since 2006, and has raised over $6.7 million through various corporate giving and fundraising efforts. Other presenting sponsors included The Walking Company and PEOPLE Country, with Pedigree Stackerz, U.S. Army, Dudley Spalding and Louisville Slugger also sponsoring the event.

In the end, although Team Grand Ole Opry won the game 13-11 over Team iHeartRadio, the real winners were the cancer patients of tomorrow. Their futures will be brighter through the advances made at City of Hope.

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