Vol State Students Will Have Special Companions At Marathon - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Vol State Students Will Have Special Companions At Country Music Marathon

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by Emily Luxen

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Like thousands of others, a group of Volunteer State Community College students have spent the last few months preparing for the Country Music Marathon, but they have followed a unique training regimen.

As part of their annual service learning program, the group of 30 students in the physical therapist assistant program will be running the race while pushing disabled children in wheelchairs.

To prepare, they have logged mile after mile while pushing strollers loaded with 40, 50 and even 60 additional pounds.

"I made a commitment when we took on this project," said student Ryan Lombardi. "There were tough days, but it is all worth it for the kids."

They will be pushing 20 kids ranging in age from six to 15 years old.

The students have partnered with Nashville nonprofit Run, Walk, Wheel & Roll, which enables children with disabilities to participate in community sporting events.

The children are coming from Harris-Hillman Special Education School in Nashville, and A.B.L.E. Youth, a nonprofit that aims to teach children in wheelchairs the importance of complete independence in all activities of daily living.

"This child gets to be surrounded by thousands of people who are screaming their names," said Zac Koffler, the founder of Run, Walk, Wheel & Roll.  "It's a beautiful thing to be a part of, and a beautiful thing to watch go by."

Over the course of the last few months the physical therapy students have spent time with the kids they will be running with, and developed special bonds. They even played wheelchair basketball to get a sense of the challenges the kids face every day.

"You meet them, and they meet you, and they look you in the eye and say we are ready to do this," said Lombardi.  "It wouldn't matter if I have a broken leg, I'm running this race."

They're hoping all the hard work pays off, and results in a memorable marathon experience.

"They've suffered through the good and the bad of the challenge," said Koffler.  " Now this weekend they get to go out make it happen."

As part of their project, Vol State students are collecting donations which will go to the Harris-Hillman Special Education School and A.B.L.E. Youth, to support services for special-needs children.


To donate:
Volunteer State PTA Club
c/o Carolyn Moore
Volunteer State Community College, Bldg 100
1480 Nashville Pike
Gallatin, TN 37066

Online: Go to http://www.active.com/donate/rwwrnashhalf2013 and click on "Make a Donation" to the right of the page.

Email: eluxen@newschannel5.com
Facebook: Facebook.com/NC5EmilyLuxen
Twitter: Twitter.com/NC5_EmilyLuxen

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