This post is part of a special NowPlayingNashville.com Stories Series titled CMA Fest Gives Back, focusing on how artists use the Festival as an opportunity to raise money and bring attention to the many charitable causes they support.
Country Music artists came together for the 6th Annual Celebrity Pro-Am Sporting Clay Tournament to benefit The Tug McGraw Foundation yesterday on a dense fog morning at the Nashville Gun Club. It was unlike any June weather I have experienced during CMA Fest.
I spoke to five of the 20 celebrities competing in the tournament. Each celebrity was paired up on a team that consists of four shooters, and a pro. All of the celebrities were excited about the day and giving back to the foundation that enhances the quality of life of children and adults with brain tumors and their families, as well as serving our wounded veterans.
The ever so adorable and stylin’, Jessie James Decker was decked out in an all American outfit and very excited to be a part of the clay shoot. “Honestly, it is very similar to the foundation that (my husband) Eric and I have together called Decker’s Dogs that involves veterans,” said Jessie. “So when they asked me to be a part of it, it was just a perfect fit and something I’m already so passionate about.”
Mark Collie, who most recently starred as Deacon’s bar business partner, Frankie Gray, on the TV show Nashville, has been a part of the tournament for two or three years now. He said, “I’m glad to be back again this year for the McGraw family and a very worthy cause.”
Second-timer Josh Gracin was excited and all in for the tournament. “Guns, food and outside … that’s good for me,” added Josh.
It was the first year for Easton Corbin. He supports the Tug McGraw Foundation and the work that they do. “Anyone could have something like brain cancer or PTSD at some point in our lives, or affect friends or family,” stated Easton. “Anytime you can be a part of something that supports that is a great cause.”
My final interview was with fellow West Tennessean, Darryl Worley who gave me the biggest hug. He got involved with the tournament three years ago and said the mission identified with his foundation. “Like my foundation, they have an active role in fighting a form of cancer, plus they also benefit wounded veterans,” added Darryl. “Not to mention it’s just a lot of fun and they know how to do it right.” I asked him if he planned on going out with a win this year. He said, “I shot really good last year not missing a clay pigeon all day. I don’t expect to shoot that good again.”
Other celebrities included in the tournament were Craig Campbell, Jamey Johnson, Steve Burton, Chris Janson, George Ducas, Andy Ross, Mike Fisher, Mark Wills, Brooke Eden, Randy Houser, Ty Herndon, Daryle Singletary, Storme Warren and Mark McGraw.
Jennifer Brusster, President and CEO of the Tug McGraw Foundation, estimated that over $700,000 has been raised in six years for brain-related trauma and tumor research, as well as foundation programs.
The Tug McGraw Foundation (TMF) was established by Tug McGraw in 2003 to raise funds to enhance the quality of life of children and adults with brain tumors and their families by stimulating and facilitating research that addresses the physical, social, emotional, cognitive, and spiritual impact of the disease. Recognizing that other areas of brain research – such as traumatic brain injury and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – inform the science surrounding brain cancer, TMF has widened its scope to include a broader spectrum of the neurosciences to support advances in medical care and quality of life for our nation’s battle-wounded, ill and injured service members.