Get ready to ‘Saddle Up’ for family fun July 29 with MTSU’s ACE Learning Center

Every day at the Ann Campbell Early Learning Center seems to be a party in the making, so why not share the fun at a giant community party Friday, July 29?

“Saddle Up,” the MTSU program’s annual fundraising event, is more family-friendly this year, opening up Murphy Center from 5:30 to 8 p.m. July 29 for kid-focused fun, hands-on activities and, of course, great food.

“This year is the 10th anniversary, and what a great year to completely change everything!” says Christy Davis, the new director of the ACE Learning Center.

“Historically, it’s been an adult-focused event, but we serve children, so what better way to celebrate than to make children the heart of the event?”

“Saddle Up” tickets are $10 per person or a $50 maximum per family. Included in the admission price is great food from local businesses. Suggested attire, as always, is jeans, boots and cowboy hats.

A silent auction will feature Walt Disney World tickets, tickets to the Tennessee Aquarium, Southwest Airlines tickets, a gift card from Bell Jewelers, Discovery Center passes, MTSU football, baseball and basketball tickets and more.

Tickets and more information are available at

“The Discovery Center (of Murfreesboro) is bringing animals!” Davis says, “and we’ll have a huge straw-bale maze, a live bee observatory, a magician, a horse-grooming station … Dance Murfreesboro is going to come, too! We’ll have lots of sensory activities for children, so there are many opportunities for kids to have some fun. We’ll even have a gigantic coloring book!

“This is a great opportunity for any community members, if they’re curious about our center and what we do, to come and find out more about us.”

The ACE Learning Center provides learning environments for children with and without developmental delays, allowing them to play together and learn from each other. Teachers at the center plan activities that help each child develop good communication, social, cognitive and motor skills.

Davis, an MTSU alumna with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education, was named the new director of the center June 7, replacing longtime director Susan Waldrop, who retired last year.

Dr. Ann Campbell, a faculty member in MTSU’s Department of Elementary and Special Education, established what was then known as Project Help in 1983, creating what would become one of Tennessee’s first inclusive early childhood programs for children ages 15 months through kindergarten.

Campbell died in 2011, and the center, now expanded from its main MTSU facility on North Baird Lane into additional space in the university’s Fairview Building, was renamed for her in 2014.

MTSU students are integral to the ACE Learning Center and its young charges. They work and volunteer in the center’s four classrooms throughout the academic year, interact with and play alongside the children, and support the teachers by assisting with daily activities.

The annual Saddle Up event supports ACE Learning Center projects alongside funds from tuition, MTSU, the United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties, the Charity Circle of Murfreesboro and private donations.

To learn more about 2016’s Saddle Up, donate silent-auction items or become a sponsor for the event, contact Davis at [email protected]

For more information about the Ann Campbell Early Learning Center and its work, visit or call 615-898-2458.