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Gift Marks First-Ever Donation from C.A.T.S. & First-Ever

ACM Lifting Lives Matching Gift Program for Reigning Entertainer of the Year

Carrie Underwood’s new hometown foundation, the Checotah Animal, Town & School Foundation (C.A.T.S.) and the Academy of Country Music’s charitable arm, ACM Lifting Lives partnered to surprise students today in Checotah, Oklahoma with a gift valued at more than $117,000 in new instruments for their music programs—and a special appearance and performance by ACM Entertainer of the Year, Underwood.

Music students district-wide were invited to a special “last-minute” assembly at Checotah High School, with buses bringing Checotah Intermediate School and Checotah Middle School in for the occasion. Students and faculty alike were surprised when Checotah High Principal Brian Terry introduced Underwood to the stage, alongside Erin Spahn, Director of ACM Lifting Lives.

Spahn and Underwood then unveiled the gift, including an electric guitar and amp, electric piano and brass instruments such as saxophones, French horns, tubas and much more. The instruments will be shared throughout the Checotah school district, and were ordered through Yamaha Corporate Artist Affairs at a special philanthropic price.

During the presentation, Underwood asked 5th grader Kennedy Rittenhouse to join her onstage to perform “So Small,” a performance that brought the house down. Checotah High School senior Brooke Ramsey, student council president, presented Underwood and Spahn with a bouquet of roses to thank the organizations for the gift.

“We are so lucky as a school district and a town to have an ambassador like Carrie,” said Brian Terry, Principal of Checotah High School. “She was Salutatorian here and continues to be an outstanding citizen of Checotah. Today was a very special day for the students and faculty.”

“When Carrie came to us with this idea, it just seemed a natural fit,” said Erin Spahn, who met with Underwood earlier this summer to plan the gift. “The Board of ACM Lifting Lives liked the concept so well, we’ve decided to build on it. Every year, we will present a matching gift opportunity to the ACM Entertainer of the Year for any endeavor that uplifts through the power of music. Carrie started that ball rolling, and we’re really proud to be a part of this with her today.”

“I am so proud to have come from such a wonderful community that helped shape me as a person,” said Underwood, “and I can think of nothing better than to share the gift of music with the students in my hometown. It’s so great to be able to give back in a way that can truly better the lives of these kids and help create dreams and opportunities. I’d like to give a very special thanks to the Academy of Country Music’s ‘Lifting Lives’ for helping me make this dream come true.”

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