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STARS ADAM Award Honors Community Leader


Honoring the community leader who has gone the extra mile to promote “Accepting Differences Among Mankind” is the heart of the ADAM award given this year by Vince Gill and Kids On The Block founder Alva Duke to community leader Annalise Barron at the November 16th Chair-ish The Night With Vince Gill & Friends benefit for Students Taking A Right Stand (STARS).

During the sold out concert, Gill helped Duke, who established the award in memory of her son, Adam, who was born with Downs’ Syndrome, present the award to Barron who launched Best Buddies of TN.

Annalise Barron, of Franklin, shares her vision for establishing Best Buddies TN.

In 2012, STARS merged Chair-ish The Night with the star-studded Vince Gill & Friends concert creating Chair-ish The Night With Vince Gill. Barron, of Franklin, dedicated a year of her life to raise $200,000, the money needed to start the TN Chapter of Best Buddies, an organization that matches people with intellectual and developmental disabilities into a one –to-one friendships with their peers without disabilities.  Her vision to bring Best Buddies to TN was remarkable since her own child with Down syndrome is still too young to participate in the program.

Held at the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum, STARS honored their other finalists as well: 

Estelle Condra, of Green Hills, owner of Inclusive Books LLC, publisher books about children with disabilities, award winning author of See the Ocean, actress, board director for VSA and is also a person who is blind.

Lori Kissinger, of Gallatin, is the first Executive Director of VSA and professor in speech and communications at MTSU. While affiliated with the National VSA organization, VSA TN has generally operated in a mostly self-sufficient manner.  On her own, she built the board of directors and has raised the funds.  In her capacity as director she has been exemplary in initiating programs for all disability groups across TN such as the dance program for Down syndrome, playwright competition on disabilities, the dulcimer choir for autistic students’, programs for the blind in storytelling.

Chair-ish The Night With Vince Gill & Friends is a night of premier art and music benefiting the nationally recognized evidenced-based resource for student assistance, training and professional consultation assisting students, families and schools with prevention, intervention and treatment services addressing bullying, substance abuse, violence, and social and emotional barriers to success. 

This year, Gill brought surprise guests Sheryl Crow, Keb’ Mo’ and singer/songwriter Natalie Hemby for the annual event according to patron co-chairs Tennessee Titans Kicker Rob Bironas and country music singer/songwriter Chad Warrix.

“It is an exciting evening as the city’s top artists donate their great works and Vince shares his talents all helping to further the important work of STARS assisting students, families and schools throughout the Middle Tennessee area with tough social and emotional barriers to learning,” Warrix said.