Each year, gift contributions from individuals and organizations help to fuel the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center's mission by allowing it to expand its research, training, clinical services, and more.
Read the stories below to see how others have generously contributed to the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center.
The generosity of others is providing a life-changing experience for musicians with disabilities from around the country.
How Lorie and John Lytle support musical experiences for artists with developmental disabilities.
For Lorie and John Lytle, music is a family affair. They met through their love of music when both were working at MCA Records in the 1990s and now, more than a decade later, they are happily married and are the proud parents of three young children. The couple first discovered the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center in 2003 and quickly became loyal supporters of the Center’s work. When approached by Vanderbilt Kennedy Center leadership about the possibility of helping with a new summer camp focused on music and designed to support individuals with Williams syndrome, who have a special affinity for music, Lorie quickly jumped at the chance. Utilizing her strong relationships from her time on Music Row, Lorie helped make the camp a reality.
Now moving into its sixth year in 2010, the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Music Camp is a residential camp where campers with Williams syndrome and other developmental disabilities celebrate music by participating in a songwriting workshop, a recording session, visits to local music sites, and a live performance on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry. The camp also includes opportunities for campers and their families to take part in research and provides training opportunities for young people who staff the camp. Most importantly, campers learn ways to use music therapeutically, since anxiety is often associated with the syndrome and other developmental disabilities.
Lorie and John’s gifts over the years have ensured the continuation of the program, particularly during a critical juncture when the camp was threatened due to lack of funding. For Lorie, supporting the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Arts Program is a natural fit, combining her passion for music with her passion for serving people with developmental disabilities.
To learn how you or your organization can support Music Camp and other Vanderbilt Kennedy Center programs, please contact Jan Rosemergy at firstname.lastname@example.org or (615) 322-8238.
VKC Leadership Council member Carol Henderson has been a long-term supporter of inclusive education for students with disabilities. In 1996, she and her husband endowed the Britt Henderson Training Series for Educators in memory of their son Britt. This year, Henderson has given a significant 4-year financial gift to the Next Steps at Vanderbilt program, a 2-year certificate program for students with intellectual and other developmental disabilities.
Through the Martin McCoy-Jespersen Discovery Grants in Positive Psychology, Martin’s parents are providing others "a way to be more like Martin" and for each to find, "in their own way, the fullness of life."
Next Steps at Vanderbilt, the first postsecondary certificate program for students with intellectual disabilities in Tennessee, received a generous gift from longtime supporter, friend, and Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Leadership Council member Linda Brooks and her family.
Andrea McDermott Sanders, Vanderbilt special education alumna (M.Ed. 2006) and VKC Leadership Council member, completed her eighth Country Music Marathon in 2012 to raise funds for the Team William Scholarship Fund for students in the Vanderbilt Kennedy Reading Clinic. Andrea's efforts have raised more than $180,000 since 2004 to provide financial support for students with Down syndrome attending the Reading Clinic. A former reading tutor, Andrea established the scholarship in honor of William Spickard, one of her students. William's family has partnered with Andrea in raising support. In 2009, Anna Spickard, William's older sister, organized the Team William 5k,
an additional fundraising event. In 2012, they funded the Team William Discovery Grant
to advance research on Down syndrome.
Autism, like other developmental disabilities, affects not only a child but also the immediate family and extended family. Grandparents play important roles-loving caregivers, creative resource finders, dedicated advocates. And in some instances, grandparents may be able to provide gifts for research to find answers that may help create a better future for their grandchild and for other children with developmental disabilities. This is the story of the Robert E. Landreth Family.
Grants from our corporate donors have the ability to improve the lives of children with disabilities and families in Tennessee. We would like to express our gratitude to the Nashville Predators Foundation for awarding the Vanderbilt Kennedy Reading Clinic with a grant that allowed eight students to participate in the program on scholarship. Funding like this is essential in order to provide critical learning intervention to youth who do not have the financial means to attend the clinic. We are grateful to the Nashville Predators Foundation for the hand they lent in improving children’s lives in our community.
Grants from our corporate donors have the ability to improve the lives of multiple children in Middle Tennessee. One child who benefitted from the generosity of Dollar General is nine-year-old McKenzie. Because of the scholarship they provided, she was able to enroll in the Reading Clinic at a critical point in her learning.
Robb and Mary Jane Swaney were able to apply their life passions to the support of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center mission. Robb, an architect and committed philanthropist, brought to life a specially designed, accessible playground where young children with and without disabilities can now play together. Mary Jane, an artist, supports programs that nurture budding artists with developmental disabilities.