Travis Chell, Director of Athletic Communications
BRISTOL – For first-year King University cheer and dance coach Mary Edwards, using cheer and dance as a platform to encourage student-athletes to make a positive impact in the world was a priority from day one. By sharing her personal story with her student-athletes of her mother’s struggle with Alzheimer’s, and the impact it had on the family, she hoped to expose students to the issue and motivate them to give back.
“I think it is important that I shared my story with my athletes so they can understand why I chose Alzheimer’s Tennessee to be our community service partner,” Edwards said. “Through the tears, laughter, and unimaginable heartache my family faced, my mother’s strength and faith in God always shined bright.”
Almost three years ago Edwards lost her mother to Alzheimer’s disease. While her mother was battling Alzheimer’s, Edwards was her caretaker. Edwards gives her mother’s encouragement and her family’s faith all the credit for her finding the courage to use her voice and share her story. Through her faith and prayer she hopes that being open and talking about her mom’s hardest times, she can help others who are facing this disease or those who do not understand it.
During the 2019-20 season the King University cheerleading and dance teams helped raise money and awareness for Alzheimer’s. They visited two memory care homes where they spent time doing arts and crafts and sharing stories with the residence. The teams placed in two categories at a local chili cook-off where they helped raise money for Alzheimer’s Tennessee. The cheer and dance athletes also had the amazing opportunity to travel to Nashville where they used their voice to raise awareness on Capitol Hill.
“We were able to speak with our state representatives and even ran into our governor,” Edwards said. “Our goal for visiting our state capital was to get our representatives signatures, support, and ultimately a bill passed to help those in our community suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia. It is my honor to coach such a caring group of young men and women. Their commitment to the community, King University, and their team is truly inspiring.”