By Anna Grace Bolen
Faith, family and football are three things that keep business owner and mentor Ben Craddock’s life interesting. His giving spirit and friendly personality proves that anyone can make an impact on their community and still be humbled by those experiences.
Craddock was the holder and a punter on the Ole Miss Football team from 1997-1999. He was the last one to hold a football at the Independence Bowl, and, on Dec. 31, 1999, they won the game with no time left.
“It was one of the best experiences of my life. I made so many great friends and countless memories,” Craddock said. “My favorite part was just being in the locker room, talking and cutting up with those guys and just having that brotherhood and special bond on and off the field.”
Family is a huge part in Craddock’s life and his success. His dad started their family business, Craddock Oil Company in 1979 and it has grown tremendously since then. They run and operate 81 stores, and also have over 100 dealer stores that they serve fuel to throughout the state. They recently just added a Krystal to the BlueSky store in Oxford.
“Our goal is to have 100 gas stations reaching from north Mississippi to south Mississippi,” Craddock said.
Craddock’s inspiration for his job and his giving spirit comes from his parents and his older brother, David, who partners with Exxon to raise money for public school funding all across Mississippi. So far, they have donated $600,000 in grants to improve the public schools in different cities across the state. His parents were hard workers and taught him that there is more to life than just financial success.
In order to show their appreciation for all that their parents have done for the family, the Craddock siblings put together a plan to surprise their parents with their family name on the basketball court in the Pavilion on campus at Ole Miss.
“It was such an honor to be able to show our appreciation for all the dedication and hard work my parents have contributed over the years. It was pretty special, and I’m glad we could do something for them,” Craddock said.
Craddock, along with Chad Kelly, Cody Core, Deuce McAllister, Jimmy Johns, and others work faith-based youth sports camps all across the state. They teach the kids about Jesus Christ, life lessons, and sports. The guys give testimonials and show children that no matter what background you come from or how many mistakes you make, there is always room for change and improvement to become a better and stronger person, both on the inside and the outside.
“Some of these kids don’t have father figures, so to be able to have the chance to try and make a positive impression on them and love on them a little bit is so special to me,” Craddock said.
Craddock loves every opportunity, small or big, to be able to give back to the community. He gives speeches and pep talks to different sports teams and schools. He recently held a fundraiser with the Oxford Krystal where 100 percent of the funds made during breakfast hours would go to the Lafayette Middle School girls basketball team. If there is ever a chance to give back to his community, Craddock is the first to jump at the opportunity.
“I met Ben Craddock at a football camp at Jackson Academy, and ever since then we have been pretty close,” University of Mississippi student Noah Berry said. “He is one of the greatest men to ever walk this planet and he will give you the shirt off your back and more if you ever needed it.”
Craddock’s biggest piece of advice to college students would be to stay true to yourself.
“College is all about discovering who you are and what you want to do, but sometimes you can get lost or caught up in the wrong crowd while doing so. Just have those few people you can rely on and work hard towards your dream,” Craddock said.