Smoky Mountain First Responders Challenge 2016: Champions All. (Part 1)


I may have found the best event of the year. It is free, family friendly, involves athleticism, bravery, and obstacles. Welcome to the Smoky Mountain First Responders Challenge 2016, presented by the United Way of Sevier County.

The morning was fun, inspiring, and motivating to all ages. The Mountain Press covered the event well in today’s Sunday edition so I will it to them to tell the major details. Event pictures and video are abundant on the Facebook page for Smoky Mountain First Responders Challenge so make sure you go over there to see the competition. Here, I will act as a digital storyteller and share what I observed in my time at this event. This story is expansive so I must cover it in two parts.  Here is what I saw at the beginning of the day…

First responders on location.


Helpers for the day.


Event coaches. Michael Maddron is ready.


I entered just as the event began. Plenty of parking and seats so bring the whole family next year.


The Smoky Mountain First Responders Challenge 2016 began with a tribute to two young people who were lost in the March 22 bombing in the Brussels airport. As we know, Justin Shults was from Gatlinburg. You can see the picture of Justin and Stephanie Shults in the photo above. Some of the proceeds at this event will fund a scholarship in their names for a student at Gatlinburg -Pittman High School. Applicants must write an essay on the topic of obstacles that they have overcome, like Justin Shults wrote about when he attended high school.


At the exact moment that the tribute to Justin and Stephanie Shults ended, I noticed two groups of Canadian geese flying overhead in a ‘V’ formation. The geese were loudly making noise,  as if saluting as they flew.  I don’t know if anyone else noticed this moment, but it seemed like a supernatural tribute from the sky, punctuating the one going on below on the football field. Time seemed to stand still for a moment.


Singing of the National Anthem.


United Way of Sevier County Executive Director, Amy Harper, pictured on the right. Rhonda Bletner, from the Moutain Press, pictured center. Her article in today’s Sunday edition was very comprehensive. Buy one before they are gone!


Bryan McCarter was the announcer for the day. I have heard him announce many ballgames at Carson Newman University, but the humor really came out for this event. From the team introductions to the timed events, his comments had us chuckling all day. A really talented sports announcer!


Coaches for competitions. Michael Maddron, pictured right, is ready for the games to begin.


Teams lining up and listening to how the day will go. I know that adrenaline was pumping!


Ready for Tug-o-War.

Obstacle course wall and tunnel. That wall was high!


Touring the course. Reviewing the rules.



Michael Maddron coaching teams for the obstacle course. (I wanted to sneak over to the stadium today to try to climb the big wall, but I think that they put it away. Maybe next year…)


And then the games were ready to begin at the Hardin-Robertson Field at Sevier County High School. A wonderful school and a great place to hold this event. (Go Bears!)

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this story. I should publish it later this evening. It will contain more pictures, stories, and a few videos of the event. It is just too big to cover in one story.

See more pictures on this blog’s Facebook page.

The Smoky Mountain First Responders Challenge by the United Way of Sevier County was a super charged way to get out and about in Sevierville. 

Be there next year!





2 thoughts on “Smoky Mountain First Responders Challenge 2016: Champions All. (Part 1)

  1. Melinda A Derrick October 9, 2016 / 10:59 pm

    This was fun reading! I especially like seeing pictures of former students and friends. How about those Canadian Geese!

    Liked by 1 person

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