Trevecca connections help make new Christmas tradition possible

After dropping out of college in 1978 to pursue a career in music, Eddie DeGarmo made a promise to his mother that he would finish his degree. Forty years later, DeGarmo fulfilled his promise and returned to college at Trevecca to earn his degree.

A 40-year veteran of the Christian music industry and 2017 graduate of Trevecca’s School of Graduate and Continuing Studies, DeGarmo embodies Trevecca’s mission of serving others.

DeGarmo serves his community of Franklin, Tenn., by working with Franktown Open Hearts, a non-profit organization that provides Christ-centered mentoring through weekly vocational education and experiences for the underserved youth of the Franklin community.

“I was so surprised to hear that the need is so great within the Franklin community, but currently there are over 400 kids who need help with only the funds to serve 150,” DeGarmo said. “We wanted to think of something out of the box to help our neighbors in need, and Franktown Festival Of Lights is the perfect opportunity to bring the community together as a whole. It’s helping those in our own backyard while providing something for the whole family to enjoy this Christmas season!”

Franktown Open Hearts is planning on setting up Williamson County’s only drive-through Christmas light show from Nov. 22 to Dec. 29 at the Williamson County Ag Expo Park. Patrons can tune their radios and listen to Christmas songs timed to the light display.

Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit Franktown’s mission.

“Our goal is to bring physical and spiritual hope to these youth by teaching them life skills, and Franktown Festival Of Lights will provide us with the resources to do that,” said Chris Barnhill, executive director Franktown Open Hearts.

DeGarmo isn’t the only Trevecca connection to the new Christmas event. Several current Trevecca athletes helped to set up the displays.

Trevecca Athletic Director Mark Elliott says it’s important for student athletes to get outside of themselves and serve others.

“Franktown had a particular need and our athletes fulfilled that need for a good cause. By us volunteering our time and our backs we were able to make a difference,” he said.

Several student athletes helped set up Christmas lights early one cold and windy Sunday morning just prior to the light show’s debut at the Williamson County Ag Expo Park.

Mehdi El Mardi, a senior basketball player, says he was glad to help for such a good cause.

“I like to volunteer and when it involves helping kids living in difficult situations it motivates me and makes me want to do even more,” he said.

It was also a time for the athletes to spend time together in a more relaxed environment to bond and enjoy themselves while serving others.

“As a basketball player, it was good to spend time with my teammates outside the court,” Mardi said. “It’s not the same camaraderie as on the court where we are all doing our job.”

Nicolas Reinhard, a senior on the Trevecca soccer team, says he’s grateful for the opportunities the athletic department has given him to serve the community.

“For me, serving others establishes an attitude of gratitude,” Reinhard said. “The reason I get to play a sport that I love is because of people giving to others, and I’m grateful for that and want to give that opportunity to others.”

To learn more about the Franktown Festival of Lights, visit

By Blake Stewart
Media contact: Mandy Crow,, 615-248-1695