Two of country music’s stars – Kellie Pickler and Thomas Rhett – teamed up with 12 of their colleagues who became real-life checker pieces today at the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Country Checkers Challenge™ during the 2015 Academy of Country Music® (ACM) Party for a Cause® Festival at Globe Life Park in Arlington, TX.
“We’ve always been supporters of country music and seen it as a natural extension of who we are as a brand…time spent on the front porch with family and friends,” said Chris Ciavarra, Cracker Barrel’s senior vice president of marketing. “For years, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store has celebrated the spirit of music through our partnerships with the Grand Ole Opry and through our exclusive music program.”
Through a Cracker Barrel $35,000 donation to benefit ACM Lifting Lives®, $25,000 was donated to USO, the winning team, and $10,000 to DAV. The event was held leading up to the 50th Annual ACM Awards, airing LIVE this Sunday, April 19, at 8 p.m. ET on the CBS Television Network.
“This event was not about us, it was about our servicemen and servicewomen and our veterans. It’s not just their sacrifices, but the sacrifices their families make, too, every day,” said winning team captain Kellie Pickler. “A fun event like this reminds us that there are so many things to be thankful for. I’m grateful for companies like Cracker Barrel, the ACM, and Lifting Lives for shining a light on the USO and DAV.”
“The Country Checkers Challenge partnership provided us with a great opportunity to recognize two military organizations – the USO and DAV to help them continue the great work they do in support of active and retired military servicemen and women,” Ciavarra said.
Playing on a giant outdoor checkerboard, Pickler and Rhett captained teams of country music artists who were the “checker pieces” in a live game viewed by thousands of fans. The artists participating in the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Country Checkers Challenge included: Team Rhett – Rhett Akins, Dan + Shay (Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney), Danielle Bradbery, Scotty McCreery, and Cassadee Pope; and Team Pickler: Lauren Alaina, Chase Bryant, Kristian Bush, Love & Theft (Stephen Barker Liles and Eric Gunderson) and Jamie Lynn Spears. SiriusXM Satellite Radio “The Highway” personality Storme Warren served as host.
“We are proud to partner with Cracker Barrel and thrilled to have won the checkers game,” said Christy Hartsell, USO Vice President of Corporate Alliances. “Having the support of our long-time friend Spanky Gibson and USO tour veteran Kellie Pickler also makes for a special day to come together in support of our nation’s troops and their families. Partnerships like this play an important role in allowing us to continue our nearly 75-year-old mission.”
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store has a long history of supporting military families through the Wounded Warriors Project, National Military Families Association, National Museum of the United States Army and the USO.