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Franklin Rodeo adds fun to fundraising

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From the outside, the Franklin Rodeo looks like a fun place to spend an evening.

But take a closer look. There’s more to the rodeo than entertainment.

For the 70 years of its existence, the Franklin Rodeo has always been a philanthropic venture hosted by the Franklin Noon Rotary Club. Over its seven decades, more than $3 million has been raised by the rodeo and given back through the Noon Rotary Club.

Expectant moms were recipients of rodeo funds last year, through Operation Homefront’s Star Spangled Babies. 

Operation Homefront throws baby showers for military spouses when they are expecting little ones. Often, those soon-to-be moms are far from friends and family, and finances can be tight, as well. 

“For a lot of these military moms, their spouses are deployed through the pregnancy and sometimes upon delivery,” said Kristen Henry, program manager for Operation Homefront. 

The baby showers provide critical needs for the new moms, giving them things as simple as diapers and baby wipes and as big as car seats and pack and plays. 

“It makes a huge impact,” Henry said. “It helps eliminate financial stressors as they prepare for their new arrival. The program is in place to welcome the newest patriot to their families.”

Adults with special needs at BrightStone in Franklin also benefitted from the Franklin Rodeo.

BrightStone is a day program for adults with mental and developmental challenges. The 40 students served each day come to BrightStone for job training, social skills, lifelong learning, health and wellness, music and the arts.

They also work together making products – greeting cards, ceramics, and consumer food products – that are sold to the public. Last year, 7,500 items made by BrightStone students were sold. 

“We typically sell out every year,” said Kristi Perkins, communications coordinator for BrightStone. 

The work that BrightStone students do gives them a sense of accomplishment, Perkins said. 

“Our students are very proud of the products they make,” she said, “and they’re proud that the community recognizes, appreciates and enjoys the products.”

Being able to work is important to BrightStone students, according to Perkins, and having the students at BrightStone is important to the students’ parents and caregivers.

“To be independent, to get up each morning, do a job and see the fruits of it is satisfying to them,” she said. “It’s such a relief (for them) to know that there’s a place their loved one can go and use their talents to the best of their ability.” 

Last year, 39 organizations, from the Boys and Girls Club of Middle Tennessee to the Gentry Education Foundation to the local Alzheimer’s Association, benefitted from the rodeo. 

This year’s Franklin Rodeo is May 16-18. Performances start at 7 pm each night at the Williamson County Ag Expo Park. Advance tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for kids ages 12 and under and are available online at www.FranklinRodeo.com. At the gate, tickets are $2 more per ticket. 

For more information, visit www.FranklinRodeo.comor call 615-RODEO-11.

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