Cornhole tournament benefits at-risk youth

Matt Light, former offensive tackle for the New England Patriots, wanted his foundation to host a cornhole tournament to benefit support programs for at-risk kids.

Client: The Light Foundation (Columbus, Ohio)
Agency
: Goodwin Group PR (Walpole, MA)
Campaign
: Cornhole Commotion
Duration
: April 1 to June 1
Budget
: $10,000 - $15,000 

Matt Light, former offensive tackle for the New England Patriots, grew up in Ohio playing cornhole, a beanbag toss yard game that he says is to Ohio what horseshoe pitching is to Kentucky.

When he initially told his AOR Goodwin Group PR that he wanted the Light Foundation, which he established in 2001 to empower young people, to host a cornhole tournament at Gillette Stadium's Dana-Farber Field House the agency thought he might be kidding.

The foundation's signature annual fundraiser, the “Celebrity Shootout,” has raised nearly $4 million to date to support programs for at-risk kids from multiple states, but participants must be at least 18 years old.

“We wanted to host a kid-friendly event in the summer that would help gain exposure for the foundation,” Light explains. “Cornhole is such a fun game -- I wanted to bring it to the East Coast in a big way.”

Strategy
Community outreach, media relations, and social media engagement drove awareness of the June 1 event, as well as participation and sponsorship.

“We tapped into cornhole enthusiast networks in the Boston area, as well as Matt's celebrity status and reputation,” says Cathy Longley, senior account supervisor at the agency.

A partnership with a local vocational-technical school highlighted the school and the foundation's youth empowerment mission.

Tactics
All messaging drove audiences to register for the tournament on mattlightfoundation.org.

The agency recruited 27 total sponsors and in-kind donors, 22 of which were new relationships. All promoted the event.

Partner CBS Radio, regional cornhole tournament organizers, and local bars and restaurants also spread the word.

Eleven of the 15 restaurants in Patriot Place, a shopping center surrounding Gillette Stadium, provided food for the event and promoted it.

Southeastern Regional Vocational Technical School students built six custom-designed cornhole board sets. Light visited the students and autographed the boards, and local media covered the story. The boards were auctioned at the tournament.

Light conducted numerous live interviews and played cornhole on-air with local TV and radio stations ahead of the event. He also filmed a “Top Five Reasons to Support Cornhole Commotion” video for the foundation's social media channels.

Local media attended the tournament, which included additional activities in a Stop & Shop FunFest Kid Zone. 

Results
The event sold out in May and raised $35,000 for the foundation.

“My goal for a first-year event is for people to enjoy it, to raise awareness, bring in new sponsors, and not lose money,” Light says. “We raised about $20,000 the first year of the Celebrity Shootout. The Cornhole Commotion exceeded expectations for a first-year event and, more importantly, we got the word out and people loved it.” 

The foundation gained 200 new Facebook likes April to June. Tournament photos posted to a Facebook album got nearly 7,500 clicks and 499 likes, comments, and shares. 

More than 20 stories ran in outlets such as The Boston Globe and NBC Sports.

Future
Light aims to double the size of the cornhole tournament next year.

The team is currently preparing for the 9th Annual Celebrity Shootout on October 8 in Rhode Island.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.