MTSU's 'Saddle Up' FUN-draiser April 15 marks ACE Learning Center's 40th anniversary

Mar 22, 2023 at 08:52 am by WGNS News

Two of the little learners at MTSU's Ann Campbell Early Learning Center ride away on their pretend pony while playing in the center’s playground in this February photo.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Make plans now to bring the family and give the community’s littlest cowhands a leg up on Saturday, April 15, when the annual “Saddle Up” FUN-draiser returns for Middle Tennessee State University’s   

Planned for 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. April 15 at the Tennessee Livestock Center, 1720 Greenland Drive, the 16th annual event will offer a whole arena’s worth of family and children’s indoor activities to help the ACE Center continue its work with local little ones.  


The inclusive preschool is marking its 40th anniversary of creating an environment for children 12 months to kindergarten age, with and without developmental delays, that allows them to play and learn with and from each other.   

Tickets are available at $10 per person, and a $40 maximum per family, at There’s also information about table sponsorships, donations and more at

This year’s Saddle Up event will once again feature plenty of activities ­— and plenty of room — for little ones with stations featuring building with boxes, learning about kindness with Moozie the Kindness Cow, exhibits from the Discovery Center at Murfree Spring, a close-up look at MTSU’s award-winning Experimental Vehicles Program lunar rover and more. 

Each ticket includes light breakfast foods from Chick-fil-A, Krispy Kreme doughnuts and Purity Dairy, plus coffee for the grown-ups. 

The 2023 Saddle Up also will feature a silent auction packed with child- and family-themed items. Organizers are still getting the list ready; more details will be available soon via Bidding will open on Saturday, April 8. 

The nonprofit ACE Learning Center is an arm of MTSU’s College of Education. Its teachers plan activities that help each child develop good communication, social, cognitive and motor skills, and more than 200 MTSU students work and volunteer with the children and support teachers in the center’s three classrooms during the academic year.  

Proceeds from the annual Saddle Up fundraiser go toward ACE Learning Center projects, supporting funds from tuition, MTSU, the United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties, the Charity Circle of Murfreesboro and private donations.  

Thanks to Saddle Up supporters, the center’s been able to update its classroom facilities, learning material and services for growing children, tasks that always seem to need repeating.  

One of the largest projects helped by Saddle Up fundraiser is an expansion of the ACE Learning Center’s unique wheelchair-accessible natural playground along with continuing to provide daily services for local children. 

The center is named for the late Ann Campbell, a faculty member in MTSU’s Department of Elementary and Special Education, who created Project HELP, one of Tennessee's first inclusive early childhood programs, in 1983. Organizers gave the center its new name in 2014. 

To learn more about Saddle Up, contact center staffer Jacob Smith at or visit

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



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