Vince Gill, Dierks Bentley and David Nail will join a star-studded roster of country music’s hottest performers, sports personalities and more to help strike out cancer and other life-threatening diseases at City of Hope's 21st annual Celebrity Softball Challenge, on Saturday, June 11, at 9 a.m. at Greer Stadium in Nashville, Tenn.

City of Hope Celebrity Softball Challenge
City of Hope Celebrity Softball Challenge

For the first time in the game’s history, two City of Hope supporters will hang out in the dugout, and get into the game, with Nashville’s stars through the “Connected to Hope Celebrity Softball Challenge” contest. Visit to learn more and enter.

An official part of the CMA Music Festival, this year’s game marks the 21st year that Nashville’s power hitters have gone to bat for City of Hope, a leading research, treatment and education institution for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases. The Celebrity Softball Challenge has raised more than $2 million for City of Hope, enabling scientists to advance research and improve treatments for patients everywhere. In addition to Vince Gill, Dierks Bentley and David Nail, Brett Eldredge, Chuck Wicks, Jake Owen, James Wesley, Josh Gracin and Point of Grace will take the field for the highly anticipated game between longtime rivals Grand Ole Opry and After MidNite with Blair Garner. Additional celebrity players will soon be announced.

“We’re honored to support City of Hope and its mission of making cancer a curable and, ultimately, a preventable disease,” said Pete Fisher, vice president and general manager, Grand Ole Opry. “This year alone, more than 1.5 million people will be diagnosed with cancer. City of Hope is like a research brain trust – their discoveries impact people all over the world. We are very proud to support City of Hope’s mission. Everyone’s commitment to this lifesaving cause is truly appreciated.”

“This game is a one-of-a-kind event during CMA Music Festival, where we bring artists and fans together to give greater hope to those with cancer,” said Blair Garner, creator, “After MidNite with Blair Garner.” “We encourage all of our fans and community to join us in this effort by coming to the ballpark and seeing your favorite stars slide into home base. I fully expect to keep the winning streak going this year!”

This year, City of Hope is offering two lucky winners the once-in-a-lifetime chance to become “draft picks” for the Grand Ole Opry and After MidNite with Blair Garner teams by entering the “Connected to Hope Celebrity Softball Challenge” contest and sharing their story of how they are connected to City of Hope. “Connected to Hope” stories can be based on a personal connection to, or treatment at, City of Hope; a connection via research and therapies developed at City of Hope and in use worldwide; or an emotional connection to City of Hope’s mission to prevent and cure devastating illnesses.

“As a two-time survivor of acute myeloid leukemia, I am forever connected to hope through the lifesaving treatment I have received as a patient at City of Hope,” said Nicole Schulz, Miss California Teen United States 2010, City of Hope supporter and longtime Celebrity Softball Challenge attendee. “I’m excited to share my personal ‘Connected to Hope’ story and hit the dugout with others who share my commitment to helping City of Hope find cures and advance research.”

City of Hope patient Nichole Schulz presented Vince Gill with the Ambassador of Hope Award.

City of Hope patient Nicole Schulz with Vince Gill.

Through May 27, entrants can visit the “Connected to Hope Celebrity Softball Challenge” contest page at and tell City of Hope, in 500 words or less, how they or a loved one have been “Connected to Hope” in some way. Two “draft picks” will be selected to join City of Hope’s celebrity softball teams and get connected to Nashville’s hottest music stars in the dugout on June 11. Each winner and a guest will also receive tickets for CMA Music Festival’s nightly concerts at LP Field on Friday (June 10) and Saturday (June 11) in Nashville, including round-trip airfare and accommodations.

The physicians and researchers at City of Hope strive to shorten the time from initial research idea to new treatment to quickly bring cures to patients. This research is making a difference in the lives of people everywhere, connecting millions to City of Hope. Numerous breakthrough cancer drugs, including Herceptin, Rituxan and Avastin, are based on technology pioneered by City of Hope. Millions of people with diabetes worldwide benefit from synthetic human insulin developed through research conducted at City of Hope. A pioneer in bone marrow transplantation, the center has performed more than 10,000 transplants, the second institution in the nation to achieve this milestone, and now operates one of the largest, most successful programs of its kind in the world. City of Hope’s Department of Supportive Care Medicine and its integrated, 360-degree approach to healing through services such as art and music therapy, yoga and support groups, serves as a model for other centers worldwide.

“Since the first pitch was thrown 21 years ago, those in the Nashville music community have been crucial players in generating awareness and support for our mission to develop lifesaving cures, changing the game for millions of patients worldwide who benefit from research and treatments pioneered at City of Hope,” said Steve Martin, associate vice president of marketing at City of Hope. “By participating in the ‘Connected to Hope’ contest and spreading the word to friends and family, consumers will join Nashville’s celebrated artists in support of City of Hope’s lifesaving work, and just might join them in the dugout, too.”

This year’s event sponsors are PEOPLE Country as the presenting media sponsor, Staples, Humana and Carhartt, among others.

For more information on the 21st annual City of Hope Celebrity Softball Challenge, please visit To purchase tickets to the most fun-filled game in town, visit All ticket sales benefit City of Hope.

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