Community Can ‘Saddle Up’ July 30 for MTSU’s ACE Learning Center

The children of MTSU's Ann Campbell Early Learning Center never slow down, so "Saddle Up," the annual fundraiser that helps keep them learning, is adding more fun options to this summer's event set for Thursday, July 30.

The 2015 "Saddle Up" event will move off-campus for the first time this year to 1546 Georgetown Lane in Murfreesboro. Hosts Gabriel and Christy Fancher, longtime supporters of the ACE Learning Center — formerly known as Project Help — have opened their home for the fundraiser.

"Our family has supported Saddle Up in the past because we believe in the work being done at ACE,” said Christy Fancher, "and we were thrilled to be able to help in this way. This night is always a great way for old friends to catch up and hopefully make some new friends, too."

Tickets are still only $50 per person and include a meal and drinks. Event sponsorships for individuals and businesses also are available. Attire, as always, is jeans, boots and cowboy hats.

The fun begins at 5 p.m. July 30 with a Saddle Up sponsors' reception featuring appetizers and cocktails at the nearby Georgetown home of supporter John Floyd. At 6:30 p.m., the Fanchers' home will be headquarters for a delicious outdoor dinner and silent auction of wonderful gifts of all kinds donated from around the community.

This year's event will feature a food truck and complimentary valet service for the first time, too. Christie-Q Catering is providing a traditional barbecue meal plus new twists, and beverages will be available thanks to Stones River Total Beverage and Mayday Brewery.

Dr. Ann Campbell, a faculty member in the Department of Elementary and Special Education, established what was then known as Project Help in 1983, creating what would become one of Tennessee's first inclusive early childhood programs for children ages 15 months until kindergarten. 

Campbell died in 2011, and the center, now expanded from its main MTSU facility on North Baird Lane into additional space in the university's Fairview Building, was renamed for her in 2014.

The ACE Learning Center's four classrooms provide learning environments for children with and without developmental delays to play together and learn from each other. Teachers at the center plan activities that help children develop communication, social, cognitive and motor skills. 

MTSU students are integral to the ACE Learning Center and its young charges. They work and volunteer in the classrooms throughout the academic year, interact with and play alongside the children and support the teachers by assisting with daily activities. 

The Saddle Up event supports ACE Learning Center projects alongside funds from tuition, MTSU, the United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties, the Charity Circle of Murfreesboro and private donations.

To learn more about 2015’s Saddle Up, purchase tickets or become a sponsor for the event, contact Lucie Burchfield, development director for MTSU's College of Education, at lucie.burchfield@mtsu.edu or follow the Saddle Up event link at http://www.facebook.com/projecthelp.

Saddle Up 2015 Students

For more information about the Ann Campbell Early Learning Center and its work, visit http://www.mtsu.edu/acelearningcenter or call 615-898-2458.