Our History

United Cerebral Palsy of Middle Tennessee is founded by concerned parents, consumers, and volunteers, including former Nashville Mayor Richard Fulton and current Nashville Mayor Karl Dean. The agency is incorporated in 1985. Fulton Special Needs Fund Dinner establishes first program of service, a special needs fund for durable medical equipment. An annual telethon is established to fund ongoing operations. Agency’s first Executive Director, Pat Rogers is hired. A telethon is established as the agency’s primary source of revenue.

UCP grant from U.S. Department of Education establishes three statewide Technology Access Centers, all now successfully independently operating. Second Executive Director Debbie Reike is hired.

Current UCP Executive Director Deana Claiborne is hired.

UCP is selected as a pilot agency for Davidson County United Way Outcome Initiatives and develops a small wheelchair ramp building program: all subsequent United Way Outcome Based project initiatives exceeded established service goals. UCP outgrows its offices and moves to Cummins Station, significantly expanding programs. THDA joins the Wheelchair Ramp collaboration, and the program expands to a statewide program, now recognized as one of THDA’s most successful and cost efficient ongoing community investments. Adult consumers with disabilities lobby UCP to cease production of its annual telethon, citing concerns that telethons portray people with disabilities as “victims” rather than persons with capabilities and skills. The telethon is ceased, and new sources of revenue are sought.

Newly developed Durable Medical and Adaptive Equipment Exchange program is rapidly growing. UCP conducts visioning sessions addressing needs for the new millennium, and identifies facility/warehousing needs as a top priority because of the amount of durable medical equipment the agency is now collecting and distributing. Capital Expansion for Equipment Exchange initiated. Over $250,000 is raised to acquire a facility to meet the needs defined in the visioning sessions. Agency moves into 10,324 sq. ft. ground level facility in downtown Nashville purchased through Capital initiative. Major donors include the Frist Foundation, the Turner Foundation, HCA Foundation, and the Memorial Foundation. UCP creates a series of television shows called “Journeys: Redefining Ability,” highlighting the skills and abilities of persons with disabilities in Tennessee. These shows air throughout Tennessee on educational television.

UCP moves into a new facility in downtown Nashville, purchased through a capital campaign initiative. The new facility allows for extensive expansion of services.

Agency increases services by over 2000 individuals. Tennessee Titan Wide Receiver Drew Bennett selects UCP as his charity of choice and immediately initiates “The Drew Crew” – an inclusive group of volunteers, UCP friends and families, Titans fans and people with disabilities. Bennett brings sports and music celebrities together to develop two Celebrity Wheelchair Basketbrawl events. Martin McGrath is elected President of the Board of Directors of UCP of Middle Tennessee. McGrath is the first board president to have a major disability that impacts virtually every life function. UCP Board of Directors convenes to discuss ways in which the vastly increasing number of families turning to the agency for help can be served.

UCP is recognized by HCA volunteers with a special monetary award. The Award is given to an agency each year that “provides a volunteer experience that is both rewarding and significant in educational impact relating to the community the agency serves.” HCA volunteers have assisted in wheelchair ramp building since the inception of the Home Access program. Funding from the award is used to purchase power equipment and tools.

UCP is selected as one of two new Family Support Agencies in the statewide Family Support Program administered by the state Division of Mental Retardation Services. While this program is the only program administered by DMRS that is open to persons with disabilities other than mental retardation, most of the contracts for this program have been held by the division’s existing contract agencies. UCP is given the contract for Rutherford County, Tennessee.

UCP receives UCPA’s national public policy award for advocacy on behalf of persons with developmental disabilities. Award is given in a ceremony at the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library. UCPA board president Martin McGrath is Awarded Nashville’s Mary Catherine Strobel Award for Service to United Cerebral Palsy. When Hurricaines Katrina and Rita hit the US east coast, UCP forms a collaboration with Goodwill Industries, the Tennessee Medical Reserve Corps and the Steve McNair Foundation, sending durable medical equipment to persons imacted by the devestation.

4743 persons with disabilities receive direct services through UCP programs. This is accomplished with a full time staff of only 5 persons and over 1500 volunteers.

UCP is one of 14 agencies out of 111 applicants selected for a merit-based grant award from Metro Government of Nashville/Davidson County to develop and implement a program to advance individual achievement and community-wide integration opportunities for children with disabilities in Metro schools. The Program is called “All Together Kids.” UCP expands the Home Access initiative, adding a Disability Housing Assistance Program to the existing Wheelchair Ramp program. The new program provides housing modifications such as accessible bathrooms and other modifications for disability-related access. The program is funded by the newly developed Tennessee Housing Trust Fund, a project of THDA.

The All Together Kids community-wide inclusion program is funded by a $50,000 grant from Walmart Foundation. UCP receives a grant from the Baptist Healing Trust to reinvent the consumer intake system, utilizing a person-centered service plan approach. UCP takes the lead in advocating within the state legislature for the protection of the statewide Family Support Program, which is threatened due to a state revenue crisis. UCP also begins advocacy for the development of a State Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, citing the need for a state department focusing on the needs of the DD population for whom services are not provided in Tennessee.

Tennessee State revenue crisis results in excessive waiting lists in all of UCP programs and services. CABLE, a Nashville based civic organization advancing opportunities for Women, recognizes UCP for inclusion efforts with the All Together Kids Program. In May of 2010, a massive flood causes widespread devastation, impacting the lives and homes of many UCP consumers and staff members. UCP takes a lead role in providing durable medical equipment and replacing lost wheelchair ramps, despite severe economic impact to the agency.

UCP is awarded a commendation by the Tennessee State Legislature for advocacy in the creation of the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. The waiting lists for UCP services continues to grow.

UCP celebrates completion of the 2000th Wheelchair ramp constructed across the state of Tennessee through the collaborative Wheelchair Ramp initiative. The ramp is built by volunteers from long-time Home Access Partner, Tennessee Housing Development Agency.

Multi-Platinum award winning artists, Diamond Rio, select UCP as their charity of choice for “Team Rio,” a group of athletes led by guitarist Jimmy Olander. The runners raise money for United Cerebral Palsy in the annual Music City Marathon. UCP continues to provide direct services to over 2,500 people annually.

Long Time UCP Director of Development Diane Dietrich passed away. Matthew Brown is selected to filled the position. UCP of Middle Tennessee hosts UCP affiliates from across the country at the UCPA National Convention in Nashville TN.

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