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School of Physical Therapy Helps Coordinate Benefit Races

Belmont physical therapy student volunteers help direct runners at the finish line of the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.

Students and faculty from Belmont University School of Physical Therapy were again instrumental in coordinating two charitable events that occur annually in Nashville, Tenn. each fall. Over 100 student volunteers provided the main logistical support for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Nashville on Oct. 26, and again for Dierks Bentley’s Miles and Music for Kids motorcycle ride and concert in Middle Tennessee on Nov. 3.

The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure race attracted 26,000 people to the Maryland Farms YMCA to support the fight against breast cancer. Physical therapy students assisted with course setup and clean up, served as course marshals at the start and finish lines, and were available throughout the race to hand out water and help with crowd control.  The student participation in race is facilitated annually by Belmont professor Michael Voight who co-chairs the event. Voight said he support Komen because 75 percent of every dollar raised in the region remains in Middle Tennessee and is granted to other local non‐profits.

“These non‐profits are working on the front lines to battle breast cancer, educating both women and men on the value of early detection and promoting awareness to low‐income and non‐insured individuals,” Voight said.

Dr. Pat Sells, associate professor of physical therapy, who leads the race volunteer program for the school said, “The manner in which our students conducted themselves overwhelms me. They were kind, energetic, dedicated and willing to do whatever was asked of them. I received so many positive comments on them, I was truly proud to be considered as part of their team.  Managing a race course with 26,000 people and doing so flawlessly was an impressive feat.”

Patty Harman, executive director of Susan G. Komen Nashville said, “They made a huge difference in this year’s race. It would not have been as successful without them.  If there were any glitches, the participants surely did not know.

This year’s efforts follow the recognition that Belmont physical therapy students received this past summer when they were honored as volunteer group of the year by the international organization of Susan G. Komen.

Just eight days after the Komen race, physical therapy students were helped orchestrate the eighth annual Dierks Bentley Miles and Music for Kids motorcycle ride and concert to benefit Vanderbilt Childrens Hospital. The School of Physical Therapy has helped coordinate this event since its inception in 2006. Bentley led more than 1,000 motorcyclists on a 40-mile afternoon ride from Harley-Davidson of Columbia, Tenn. to Riverfront Park in Nashville, Tenn. where he and other music artists treated thousands of fans to a benefit concert.   Artists joining Bentley this year included Easton Corbin, Jake Owen and Luke Bryan.

“Each year this gets a little bit bigger and a little better,” Bentley said. “We could not have taken this event to the level it now is without the help of my friend Mike Voight and his students at Belmont University. The Belmont students have been integral to the success of this event from the inaugural ride seven years ago to its current size.  I always look forward to working with them.”

Dierks Bentley poses with physical therapy student volunteers as he finishes his motorcycle ride prior to his concert at Riverfront Park in Nashville, Tenn.
Dierks Bentley poses with physical therapy student volunteers as he finishes his motorcycle ride prior to his concert at Riverfront Park in Nashville, Tenn.

Belmont physical therapy alumna and adjunct faculty member Ashley Campbell, who has volunteered for the past six years by overseeing the Belmont volunteets, said, “I am so proud to be associated with such a great group of hard working and dedicated young adults.”

And as they are with the Race for the Cure, Voight and Sells are also intricately involved with Miles and Music.

“This is a great learning experience and fun event for our students,” said Voight.

Sells said, “Not only did they get to meet and work with the stars of country music, but in doing so they also helped the community in a large way. It is a real pleasure to watch our students give and serve unselfishly. This is what service is all about.”

Jami Graham, a third-year physical therapy doctoral student class leader, said, “The Dierks fundraiser is an event we look forward to each year. It’s fun to see my fellow classmates come together to make it happen and contribute to the overall success of this event.  It is a real privilege to have this opportunity to give back to the community.”

This year’s Miles & Music event raised a record $307,000 for Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital.

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