I know that the Tennessee Walking Horse is one of God’s most beautiful and talented creatures the he put on this earth for man to enjoy. Now, I know that the men and women of the Walking Horse Trainers’ Association are truly one of his greatest gifts also.

My husband, Tony, was a small time trainer in the Upper Cumberland area for over 30 years, and I showed in the Amateur classes.

On March 3, 2020, I awoke to the sound of my weather radio telling us to take cover; there was a tornado on the ground in my area. Luckily we live about two miles from the disaster and were not affected. There were 18 people killed; five were children under the age of 13. One of those 18 was a friend named Jessica.

When I got to church on Sunday, I found out that about 300 yards behind the church five of our church families’ homes were completely destroyed. They had lost everything, but they were alive.

My church, the Double Springs Church of Christ, was the place that everyone came for comfort. We fed thousands of people and supplied them necessities to help start their lives again.

On March 9, 2020, I was working at the care center and heard someone ask, “What are those horse trailers doing here?” I looked out and saw on the first trailer the words “Dickie Gardner Stables”. Tony had told me that on the Walking Horse Report’s website he had seen that people were coming to help, but didn’t know when. I told my fellow volunteers that this was the WHTA and they were here to help feed the people. 

 Well, they circled those trailers and pulled out cookers, tables and food and got to work. One of the first people I saw with a big smile on her face was Jane Moore, one of the grand ladies of the walking horse business. She said, “We are here to cook and have brought donations of cleaning supplies, personal necessities and bags of candy for the children.”

Layne Leverette and I joked about what they were going to cook. I said maybe deep fried meadow muffins. He said horse tails and hoofs. I said if they were fried they would be good. But, when Tony Edwards and his crew started cooking, I was amazed.

Most people that had cooked for the area had made hot dogs and hamburgers, but not these guys and ladies. It was a first class southern meal: pork chops, fish, chicken, sides and desserts. The best “tater” salad I have had in a while.

The Red Cross and The Salvation Army were there, but they didn’t cook. They took meals out to the people and I hope they mentioned the WHTA cooked them. I worked for nine hours and was headed home when Layne Leverette came up to me with a meal to take home. He said, “Next time he would cook possum for me.”

I didn’t recognize all that were there but I did see Dickie Gardner and his wife, Layne Leverette, Carol Wakefield, Tony Edwards, Herbert Derickson and one of his handsome boys. Some I didn’t know without their hats and riding suits on. I’m sorry that I can’t remember more names. But, thank you all from the bottom of my heart for feeding the hurting people of Cookeville.

God bless the Walking Horse Trainers’ Association.

A sincere thank you and God bless,
Sandy & Tony Kennedy
Double Springs Church of Christ
The People of Cookeville