Thursday, May 14, 2015


Anniversary event to be held June 13 at new First Tennessee Park in Nashville

Tickets On Sale Now at 

Photo credit: City of Hope

Nashville, Tennessee - (May 14, 2015) – Nashville native and former City of Hope patient Stephen Bess will return to Music City next month for an emotional homecoming, one in which he’ll be introduced to the man who saved his life.

During his treatment for acute lymphocytic leukemia more than two years ago at City of Hope, Bess received a lifesaving donation of genetically matched stem cells from a stranger who, as it turned out, lived half a world away, in Germany. Ever since that time, Bess has wondered about that person, to whom he’s forever linked, who willingly and freely volunteered those cells. On June 13, in a special and rare ceremony at the 25th annual Celebrity Softball Game, Bess will get a chance to meet his life-giving hero.

“I am constantly humbled by the love and support I have received since my diagnosis in 2012. From the amazing staff at City of Hope, to my anonymous hero donor, to all of my friends and family, and of course my wife, Erin — I would not be alive if it weren’t for all of them,” said Stephen Bess. “To celebrate all of this in my hometown of Nashville is surreal. Thank you City of Hope, and thank you Nashville!”

The meeting will be the emotional highlight of the game, held during CMA Music Festival at the new First Tennessee Park. After the meeting, both Stephen and his bone marrow donor will play alongside country artists Aaron Watson, Charles Esten, Chuck Wicks, Lauren Alaina, Lindsay Ell, Little Big Town, Love and Theft, Vince Gill and many more to strike out cancer with City of Hope.

A pioneer in the treatment of bone and blood marrow diseases, City of Hope has performed more than 12,000 lifesaving bone marrow transplants. It also is a leading biomedical research institute for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening illnesses. The City of Hope Celebrity Softball Game, presented by Staples and sponsored by PEOPLE Country, raises funds for that research.

“City of Hope is extremely grateful for the continuing support of the Nashville community and the fans of the Celebrity Softball Game,” said City of Hope CEO and President Robert W. Stone. “This kind of commitment enables our doctors and researchers to more quickly speed breakthrough discoveries into new therapies for our patients and for cancer patients worldwide. This event in Nashville brings home the fact that City of Hope’s impact extends far beyond our hospital and research labs in California, improving the lives of people nationwide and worldwide.”

Bess’ connection to City of Hope began when he was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia in 2012. He’s now overjoyed at the prospect of celebrating his second chance at life in his native city.

Born at Baptist Hospital in Nashville, Bess has deep roots in Music City as the step grandson of Tootsie Bess, the namesake of legendary honkytonk, Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge. He grew up in Middle Tennessee riding dirt bikes, fishing and playing baseball while he attended Montgomery Bell Academy.

In 1995, Bess left for Houston’s Rice University, later playing with the Detroit Tigers Minor League system from 1999 to 2004. After sports-related injuries precipitated an early retirement and a move to Southern California, Bess was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) in 2012. He was immediately sent to City of Hope. There, Bess underwent multiple rounds of chemotherapy while the difficult search for a bone-marrow match commenced. Bess’ perfect counterpart was discovered nine time zones away -- in Germany -- where a young man new to the marrow registry generously volunteered stem cells that would save Bess’ life.

"Staples is thrilled to support the Celebrity Softball Game’s 25th Anniversary,” said Ron Sargent, Staples chairman and chief executive officer. “We are proud sponsors of City of Hope’s mission to ‘Strike Out Cancer’ via research, treatment and the mission to save lives."

Each year, the Celebrity Softball Game regularly features some of Country Music’s biggest and hottest stars. Over the years, Carrie Underwood, Darius Rucker, Florida Georgia Line, Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Scotty McCreery, Vince Gill and many more have taken to the field in support of City of Hope’s lifesaving mission.

City of Hope is an independent biomedical research institution and comprehensive cancer center where scientists and physicians quickly transform scientific discoveries into better treatments and prevention strategies for people around the world. Support from the Nashville community and its country music artists directly benefit City of Hope’s mission to find cures for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases.

Tickets for the game can be purchased through Ticketmaster. Get more information on the game and the line-up of celebrities at Those not able to attend the game can still support the cause. A variety of unique merchandise and experiences, including meet-and-greets with the hottest artists, will be available for bid at The proceeds will benefit City of Hope’s mission to eradicate cancer and other life-threatening diseases.

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