Andrea Conte, Tennessee’s first lady, walked through Martin Tues-day, Sept. 28, as part of her “Andrea Walks for Children,” an awareness and fund-raising program to benefit the state’s nonprofit child abuse advocacy centers.
The centers offer prevention education and relief to children suffering from physical or sexual abuse. As part of her campaign, she is walking a zigzagged 600 miles across the state.
Conte made a special stop at UTM on the way to the Carl Perkins Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse satellite office in downtown Martin. She began her walk Tuesday morning in Dresden and made the 16.8-mile tour with local supporters.
A large assembly of UTM students greeted Conte as she came onto campus in front of the UC. The Skyhawk Marching Band and color guard rallied the crowd as they waited for Conte to arrive.
UTM Chancellor Nick Dunagan said, “I want to offer a word of thanks for all who’s made this a positive effort for UTM. You’re learning the value of giving back to your community.
“We’re equally proud to have (Conte) as the first lady of Tennessee.”
Conte, dressed in athletic gear with a GPS receiver on her arm, was pleased that UTM students came to meet her. “I was overwhelmed when I rounded the corner and saw all the students and the band playing,” she said. “We feel so encouraged and have gotten so much support. It’s wonderful.”
Conte thanked UTM students for their commitment, and she said that she is convinced that Tennessee can defeat child abuse.
“It’s always great to be here in Martin. You all just make me feel so good. We really couldn’t be doing this without you,” she said.
From UTM, Conte walked to the local Department of Children’s Services. Debbie Capps, program director for the local Carl Perkins Center satellite, said the event “went off without a hitch.”
“The university really helped us out. It was a wonderful surprise to her when she walked on campus,” Capps said.
From Martin, Conte traveled to Clarksville, where she then walked to Springfield.
Sodexho donated $200 toward a banquet for Conte Tuesday night.
Donations from student organiza-tions include:
• Chi Omega, $1,070
• Sigma Phi Epsilon, $455
• Phi Sigma Kappa, $350
• Leaders in Residence, $300
• Sigma Chi, $250
• LEAD Academy, $215
• Alpha Tau Omega, $100