‘Saddle Up’ gives Project Help’s cutest cowp...

‘Saddle Up’ gives Project Help’s cutest cowpokes a boost

Dust off those boots and tighten up that 10-gallon hat for MTSU’s upcoming “Saddle Up for Project Help” fundraiser, pardner, or you’ll have to answer to some mighty big little cowpokes.

One of Project Help's cowgirls tries on a new hat for the 2012 "Saddle Up for Project Help" fundraiser at the MTSU Foundation House. (photos courtesy of Project Help)

“Saddle Up” gets under way at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 26, at the MTSU Foundation House, located at 324 W. Thompson Lane next to the university’s Tennessee Miller Coliseum.

Tickets are $50 per person — Western wear is encouraged! — and include a barbecue dinner and two drinks, followed by live music and dancing. A silent auction will feature items including Southwest Airlines and Disney Theme Parks tickets, a weeklong beach-condo stay and an on-the-spot work of art painted by Nashville artist Arthur Kirkby.

Director Susan Waldrop said funds raised at the 2012 event will be used to continue expanding services for Project Help, which is Rutherford County’s only community- and center-based program serving very young children, including those with special needs.

A Project Help cowboy slows his trusty steed long enough to show that the "Saddle Up" fundraiser is serious business.

Previous “Saddle Up” events have helped the program grow into new classroom space and offer services to older children.

“Our ultimate goal is providing a one-stop, wrap-around preschool educational and therapies center,” said Waldrop. “The fun component of this fundraiser is the way folks in the community seem to enjoy putting ‘Saddle Up’ together.”

Founded in 1983, the nonprofit Project Help provides free early-intervention and family-support services to toddlers with disabilities and developmental delays. It currently serves 68 children, including 45 with special needs.

Project Help’s progressive preschool serves children from 15 months to 3 years old. The new “Project Help Prep” for children ranging from 3 years old to kindergarten currently offers a half-day, tuition-only program four days a week.

The center’s staff, which includes more than 150 student volunteers each semester, works with parents through family-support programs that include workshops, one-to-one interactions and informal training seminars.

Grants from the Tennessee Department of Education through Early Intervention Services and the United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties partially fund Project Help’s work. Dozens of community organizations and businesses also provide the center with much-needed equipment, toys and consumable items every year.

Tickets are available by calling Project Help at 615-898-2458. For up-to-the-minute details on “Saddle Up for Project Help” 2012 including photos of the center’s children and the silent-auction items, visit or click on the logo at right.

— Gina E. Fann (