A kid's remarkable cornhole feat

CorrespondentJuly 30, 2011 

Chase Raper is a rising Internet sensation.

As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 630,000 people had viewed the toddler's three-week-old YouTube video, which has been highlighted across the nation by AOL, CBS, MSNBC and ESPN.

But when asked what he thinks about being famous, the 3-year-old replied: "I love my dogs. I love all my friends. I love to play cornhole. And I love my cats."

In the 90-second video Chase, who is left-handed, sinks seven bean bags in a row during a game of cornhole, which is also known as corn toss, bean bag, and soft horseshoes, according to the American Cornhole Association.

Then, in the video, Chase and his father, Greg Raper, jump up and down in a victory celebration. Greg Raper then scoops up his son and they share a big hug.

Chase, who had played cornhole only once before, hasn't been able to reproduce the sequence, his parents said.

Cornhole is like horseshoes, except you toss bean bags at a wooden platform with a hole, instead of horseshoes at a stake.

The game is thought to have originated in Germany in the 14th century, and was rediscovered in Kentucky more than 100 years ago, the cornhole association's website says.

"Contestants take turns pitching their corn bags at the cornhole platform until a contestant reaches the score of 21 points," the website says. "A corn bag in the hole scores 3 points, while one on the platform scores 1 point."

The footage was filmed during a July 3 cookout hosted by the Rapers' friends in South Carolina. The 14 adults and 13 kids had finished a lunch of hamburgers, hotdogs and chocolate cake. As the temperature rose, many had retreated inside and the bean bags were free for Chase and his little brother, Johah, 2, to play with.

Days before the trip, Jenny Raper, 34, an audiologist at the VA Medical Center in Durham, had bought her first cell phone with a camera, she said.

"I just thought it would be cute," she said.

Chase tossed the first round. Many landed near, but not in, the hole.

"That's awesome buddy," Jenny Raper said to Chase in the video. "Can you do it one more time for me?"

Chase proceeded to sink seven in a row.

"Are you kidding me?" Greg Raper repeats in the background.

On July 6 Jenny Raper posted the video online, for friends and family to see. The family, which eats at Rockfish Seafood Grill every Wednesday, showed it to restaurant employees. An employee's spouse posted the item on www.reddit.com, a user-driven social news website. Soon, national news organizations started calling.

"Really it was very bizarre," Jenny Raper said. "I was walking through Target shopping the clearance section, and I am on the phone with an MSNBC senior producer."

Chase, his dad and his brother were eating at Rockfish when the clip played on ESPN's "SportsNation." The manager had turned on all the televisions to that station.

"It hasn't changed Chase at all," said Rockfish waitress Catharine Woodrome, 27. "Jonah and Chase are some of the most polite kids you will ever meet."

Jenny Raper said when she tried to get the boys to sit down to watch the video for the first time with her, Chase turned to her and asked if they could watch the PBS show "Bob the Builder" instead.

The video may portend a successful career as a major league southpaw; at the very least it is something his parents can tease him about in front of future girlfriends and play at his wedding, they said.

The Rapers said they have learned a lot in the past few weeks.

"It's just a strange phenomenon," Raper said about the Internet fame.

The online comments, more than 1,900 as of Wednesday, have surprised them the most.

Many praise Chase for his arm and his Dad for his enthusiasm. "Kid's got an arm, dad! Keep him going; he'll be in the majors in no time!" wrote one fan. "This kid got more dad validation in 1 min than I got in my entire life," wrote another.

Others make fun of the game cornhole and its name, along with some other inappropriate responses.

But most of all, the Rapers have learned to keep their video camera handy, they said.

"I think all little kids are amazing and they do amazing things every day," Jenny Raper said.

virginiabridges@gmail.com or 919-564-9330

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