26.2 Miles in the Rain for the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center (TN UCEDD) Reading Clinic Organization: Vanderbilt Kennedy Center

May 31, 2013

The scheduled day of the Nashville Country Music Marathon did not present optimal weather for a long-distance running event. However, a few raindrops -- or rather, a lot of raindrops -- wouldn't stop Andrea McDermott Sanders (Peabody M.Ed. '08) from pressing forward and running her ninth Country Music Marathon to raise funds for the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center (TN UCEDD) Reading Clinic scholarships through Team William.

Team William is an endowment Sanders created after working on reading skills with an exceptional young man with Down syndrome named William Spickard. Sanders had the desire to make "reading a reality" for other children with disabilities, and saw the importance and necessity of the VKC Reading Clinic. Since the fall of 2005, with support from donors, more than 23 Reading Clinic scholarships have been awarded to 13 children with disabilities. Through the scholarships, these students have received individually-tailored, research-based, one-to-one tutoring provided by trained tutors at the Clinic.

In monetary terms, more than $180,000 has been raised to offer these children a chance to take their literacy to the next level. Those funds have been split into two branches. The first is the Team William Endowment, which has been funded by more than $145,000. Annual interest from this endowment has the potential to fund up to three students for one year at the VKC Reading Clinic.

The second branch, the Team William Discovery Grant, is made up of more than $35,000 in donations. Launching this fall, this grant funds dedicated researchers whose focus will be to study how to better support the learning process of children with disabilities. For more information on Team William, or to donate online, visit www.teamwilliam.org.