Belmont University participated in Garrett’s Hero Run on October 14, the Global Physical Therapy Day of Service, as part of the American Physical Therapy Association’s National Physical Therapy Month. This day provided a perfect opportunity for Belmont’s School of Physical Therapy to join with PTs in the community for a service event that supports a fellow physical therapist and Belmont alumna.
Amber Sapp, a physical therapist and 2005 graduate of Belmont’s program, has an 11-year-old son, Garrett, who has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a rare but fatal neuromuscular disorder with no cure. Every year, Amber and her husband, Randy, organize a 5K event as a fundraiser for Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy (PPMD), the largest nonprofit organization devoted solely to ending Duchenne. The race, Garrett’s Hero Run, encourages participants to dress in their favorite super hero costume to support Garrett. Currently, he is participating in clinical trials to help researchers find a cure so other children don’t have to face the same battles.
At the beginning of each fall semester, Dr. Christi Williams, assistant professor in the School of Physical Therapy, fellow 2005 alumna and former classmate of Sapp’s, shares Garrett’s story with her students. “I feel strongly that there is something special here at Belmont and we refer to it as the ‘Belmont PT Family,'” she said. “This ‘family’ serves to support you when you need it most.”
At Belmont, the physical therapy program strives to transform the lives of others by serving patients in the clinic and giving back to the community–as evidenced by students’ involvement in countless community service events. “Making a difference in the lives of others is what physical therapy is all about,” Williams said. “Amber is making a difference in the lives of many families and young boys by raising money to support research through PPMD. Her story provides encouragement and inspiration to all future PTs, and since Amber is a part of the Belmont PT family, her mission continues to be supported by her former classmates, fellow alumni and the current DPT students.”
The 2017 Garrett’s Hero Run raised more than $25,000 for PPMD to support research efforts towards a disease cure. Belmont DPT volunteers assisted in these efforts by volunteering on race day, helping with fundraising and providing auction items for the silent auction.
Sapp said, “When I was in Physical Therapy school at Belmont, my classmates became my family. When my son, Garrett, was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy seven years ago, one of the first calls I made was to a fellow alumni. These are the types relationships that are built at Belmont. These relationships are what get you through the ‘stuff of life’. Your classmates are the people who went through the fire with you and held your hand the whole way. These are the people I still want by my side.”