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Student-athletes take center stage

Student-athletes take center stage

Posted: Thursday, April 15, 2010 9:57 am

The Messenger 04.15.10
Sophomore Kelsy Abell has a busy schedule with classes and equestrian, but she gave up about 25 hours to sing with a group of student-athletes from the University of Tennessee at Martin in Saturday’s 49th annual All-Sing competition held in the Watkins Auditorium on campus.
Proceeds from the singing competition went to Obion County Hometown Walk of Hope, which helps local cancer patients.
Ms. Abell and 21 others donned “The Lion King” T-shirts and painted flares on their faces to resemble the lion and Captain Skyhawk characters. The group added a little choreography to a five-song set — “Circle of Life,” “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King,” “Be Prepared,” “Hakuna Matata” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” — and claimed the Best of Show award.
Phil Dane, UT Martin’s director of intercollegiate athletics, put the group together. Landing Ms. Abell and four of her equestrian teammates was simple compared to recruiting a couple of football players and a men’s basketball player.
“I knew this was for a good cause,” Ms. Abell said. “I understand it because it was happening at my house. My dad was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor in October 2009, so as a family, we all had to pitch in and do something to help my mom.”
Others in the group have similar stories about how cancer has affected their families, but none could match that of Lorraine Gossett, one of the directors of Walk of Hope. Both of her parents, plus her son, battled cancer.
“We stopped looking at the Walk of Hope as a money maker and started looking at it as a ministry,” Ms. Gossett said.
Ms. Gossett and over 300 UT Martin student-athletes attended one of the group’s last practices Thursday night in the University Center. After listening to the group sing, Dane challenged each athlete to pledge a donation to the Walk of Hope.
Student-athletes pledged over $200 to help Walk of Hope’s effort to reduce the financial burden on individuals during their battles with cancer. All money raised by Walk of Hope is directly funneled back to Obion County cancer patients to assist them in whatever they need financially.
“I noticed they all paid close attention,” Ms. Gossett said. “They were moved and some even cried.”
This year’s All-Sing with its theme “A Night of Music from the Movies” generated more than $3,200 for Hometown Walk of Hope.
Most of the songs Ms. Abell and the student-athletes sang were songs they grew up with, but one, “The Circle of Life,” had special meaning for the sophomore from Nindle, Va.
“No matter what the situation is, life goes on and you have to handle it,” Ms. Abell said.
Members of the UT Martin Student-Athletes and Friends group which participated in All-Sing included football players Brent Acker, Markei Guy and Taz Tillery; equestrian participants Ms. Abell, Katelyn Rattner, Candice Fulcher, Brittany Kasprack and Blair Childress; men’s basketball players Daron Hood and Ronald Spencer; rifle participants Aliana Norris and Jennifer Garbina; cheerleaders Stephanie Anderson and Roni Morin; Captain Skyhawk; and friends of athletics Kelsea Merriweather, Jonathan Whitaker, Gal-vyn Hill, Keith Lewis, Rachel Lemonds, Brittany Thompson and Mario Ross.

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