Mitchell Tenpenny isn’t the type of guy to live with regrets. But he does have one.
“I wish I had known how serious my dad’s cancer was,” he tells One Country, his voice merely a whisper as he speaks of his father James Mitchell (Mitch) Tenpenny, who passed away in 2014 when he was just 55 years old. “I was in college when he was sick, and I know he didn’t want me to know how sick he was. He didn’t want me to have a bunch of anxiety about it all. I just didn’t know how bad it was.”
But it was bad. The country superstar’s father would eventually succumb to the dreaded disease, and the entire experience would forever change Tenpenny’s life.
So much so, that he has decided to do something about it.
Earlier this year, the “Drunk Me” hit maker announced a new partnership between his very own 10Penny Fund and the Sarah Cannon Fund to aid cancer patients and their loved ones through every aspect of the cancer journey.
ONE COUNTRY: Tell us a little more about your dad.
MITCHELL TENPENNY: He was into everything I did. Whether music or sports, he just supported me, no matter what path I wanted to take. Both my parents believed in us, no matter how crazy our dreams were. And as a kid, that was huge.
OC: You have often talked about how his cancer struggle affected you. And I assume, it’s still affecting you?
MT: For sure. People rarely talk about the mental aspect of cancer. And if we can find a way to better handle the mental aspect of it, that’s going to play a big part in defeating it.
OC: You recently partnered with Sarah Cannon, the Cancer Institute of HCA, and unveiled the newly-renovated Hope Lodge Nashville Family Room at the American Cancer Society. Why was this project so important to you?
MT: Let’s just say, I hate hospitals. They can be so bland and scary. But this new family room just feels good. There are video games in there and wood furniture. It just feels like home. The fact is that you can lose your mind over the scariness of cancer. These are the kinds of places that can help. I’m honored to be a part of the upgrade.
OC: You have been able to do so much already via your 10Penny Fund since starting it just last year. Can you even believe it?
MT: I really can’t. You talk about what you want to do and how many people you want to help and you spend all of these moments dreaming up some big ideas. But then it comes alive, and there is nothing like it.
OC: You are going to leave quite a legacy, not only through your music but your efforts with this. Do you feel that?
MT: Well, yeah. I mean, music is important. But being able to give back in this way and follow in the footsteps of so many other country artists who have done it also is really special.
OC: Your dad would be really proud of you.
MT: He probably would. (Laughs.) He would have loved all of this.
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For over a year now we have been raising money for The 10Penny Fund. Because of your generosity, @sarahcannoncancer and I were able to renovate & unveil a new family room at the @americancancersociety’s @hopelodgenashville on 10.10. This is so special to me, and I know it will be to a lot of people as well. It took us $25,000 to get to this point and now I’m challenging you to help us raise another $20,000 to keep it going. Visit 10PennyFund.com to find out how you can help! Swipe right to see the before & after! #The10PennyFund