How Blake Shelton Helped Change a Military Family's Life
The singer honors one very special couple during his San Diego tour stop
With the end of his tour just a couple of weeks away, Blake Shelton is celebrating another successful summer on the road.
One of his favorite moments this time around? Getting to serenade Roland and Marie Esther Kiendrebeogo at his recent show in San Diego. The Kiendrebeogos, who are originally from West Africa, moved to Shelton’s home state of Oklahoma and are now U.S. citizens and active members of the Navy in San Diego. They are also huge Blake Shelton fans.
Shelton, along with JCPenney, presented a $10,000 gift card to the USO on stage on Sept. 6, to support families in need and then performed his hit “Home” in the Kiendrebeogos honor.
“I couldn’t take my eyes off of the family when they were on stage with us,” Shelton tells PEOPLE. “I have the on-stage vantage point every night, so having them come up and experience the crowd singing to them was so cool. They were overwhelmed by the experience and honestly, we all were.”
It was a night that the Kiendrebeogos say they won’t forget, either. “It’s a big deal,” says Roland. “We’re so excited. He’s a character and I like a man of character.” Adds Marie Esther, “The show made me feel like I was in Oklahoma again.”
For his part, Shelton says his work with the USO is a job perk. It’s “awesome,” he shares. “They are such good people and they treat the soldiers like royalty. When they bring them backstage, it’s the soldiers who are the superstars. I think what they do for morale is so important. Having the soldiers and veterans being part of our shows is good morale for all of us and it’s really gratifying.”
Shelton is a JCPenney Cares Ambassador and in two years, their partnership has raised nearly $5 million for the USO. Now, for the duration of Shelton’s Ten Times Crazier tour, JCPenney will make a one-dollar donation to the USO, up to $200,000, when shoppers and fans use the hashtag #JCPANDBLAKE4USO and tag @JCPENNEY in Tweets.