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Shine the Light on Child Abuse April 29th

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In April, Keith Edmonds will honor a man he'll never have the opportunity to meet.

Through the Keith Edmonds Foundation, Edmonds has established the inaugural Joshua Osborne Award. The award will be presented to whichever Wilson County or Lebanon Special School has the largest percentage of participation at an upcoming Child Abuse Awareness event Edmonds is hosting at Cumberland University on Saturday, April 29th.

Edmonds and the posthumously recognized Osborne share several commonalities. Both are survivors of child abuse. Both kept smiling - and most importantly - sharing their stories to bring awareness to Child Abuse in Tennessee.

"Joshua is the epitome of what the Keith Edmonds Foundation stands for. He had a positive attitude and was caring. Even though he is deceased we can still honor him," Edmonds explained.

Osborne made national headlines in 2004 when authorities found him chained to a bed inside his father and stepmother's Lebanon home. Osborne, who suffered from heart-related illness in addition to developmental disabilities, was a young teen and weighed just 49 pounds at the time of his discovery.

Former Lebanon Police Chief Scott Bowen remembers getting calls from CNN and USA Today about the case, although interviews were not conducted. He'd been appointed Chief the year prior.

"In law enforcement, you see a lot, but for me - this was especially shocking to see. If it hadn't have been reported when it was, he would have been dead in a short time," Bowen remembered. "The detectives worked really hard on this."

Bowen echoed that Osborne's case forever changed the city - and state views on Child Abuse. In 2008, former Gov. Phil Bredesen signed the Joshua Osborne Law into effect, adding dehydration and starvation to the list of child-abuse charges.

"It brought a huge spotlight on child abuse," Bowen added. "One of the issues is you really don't know what is going on. So many cases go unreported."

Osborne was an advocate before his untimely death in 2014.

Edmonds said he will continue to "Shine the Light" on Child Abuse at the aptly named event, scheduled for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m on April 29th at Cumberland University.

He noted the event will be an "upbeat and inspiring" day as the foundation continues to knock down the wall of child abuse awareness being a taboo subject.

He's expecting a crowd of up to 5,000 - including students, community leaders, concerned citizens and other advocates - who will participate in making a human pinwheel.

Edmonds said that two out of three people in substance abuse programs were physically or sexually abused as children.

"God gave me the vision to do this," he said of creating the Keith Edmonds Foundation in 2016. "This was not Keith's plan. This was God's plan."

Edmonds was also abused as a child. On one occasion, his mother's boyfriend held his face to a heater, which nearly killed him - and scarred him for life.

For many years, Edmonds admittedly struggled with alcohol abuse and anger as a result.

"I hit rock bottom," he said. He credits building a personal relationship with Jesus Christ with saving his life.

He's been sober for 4 ½ years and is dedicated to raising awareness, particularly in Wilson County.

For more information on the upcoming event, visit keithedmondsfoundation.org.

Sponsorship opportunities are available in amounts from $100 up.

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