The Shine the Light event will take place April 29 at Cumberland University. The event, conducted by the Keith Edmonds Foundation, will be an upbeat and inspiring day to raise public awareness regarding child abuse.
Keith Edmonds Foundation founder, child abuse survivor and advocate Keith Edmonds said the event would pay tribute to Josh Osborne, who was the victim of one of the most horrific cases of child abuse in Wilson County.
Edmonds said he would not be remembered for the incident, but for his positive attitude, love of life, big smile and his willingness to forgive.
The Keith Edmonds Foundation, a nonprofit organization created to assist children who have become victims of child abuse and neglect and to empower them through the power of forgiveness, wants to make sure Osborn’s strength and forgiving spirit will continue to live.
Wilson County school children will participate in the family event, and the school with the most students in attendance will be presented an award by the foundation. It was announced last week that the yearly award would be named the Josh Osborne Award as a lasting tribute to the young man who lived his adult life not as a victim, but as a forgiving survivor.
“Josh epitomizes what we stand for and everything we’re trying to accomplish,” Edmonds said.
Osborne was discovered in 2004 in his Lebanon home after he was tied to his bed for nine years and only allowed to have soup and water. The 15 year old only weighed 50 pounds when he was discovered.
After his rescue, he lived with an aunt in LaVergne, graduated from LaVergne High School and later worked at a Goodwill store in Antioch. He was named Goodwill Employee of the Year in 2009.
Edmonds said in spite of his abuse, everyone who knew Osborn said he was always smiling and having a great day.
Osborne’s case was responsible for the enactment of tougher child abuse laws in the state. In 2008, the state legislature passed a law that requires anyone convicted of child abuse to serve his or her full sentence.
The bill was introduced in honor of Osborne, and starvation and dehydration were added to the list of child abuse offenses.
Osborne died in 2014 at 24 years old after struggling with health issue most of his life.
The Keith Edmonds Foundation will hold its first Camp Confidence this summer at Cumberland University. More than 100 children in Wilson County who have open child abuse cases will be served through the camp that will focus on self worth and self esteem.
The Keith Edmonds Foundation will maintain personal contact with the campers until they’re reunified, adopted or age out of the system. Edmonds said the survivor’s date is critical for the campers when dealing with their battles.
The foundation also conducts the Backpack of Love program, in which backpacks are filled with essential necessities and given to children of all ages who are victims of child abuse. Each backpack is gender and age specific and includes items such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, soap/body wash, shampoo and age-appropriate books and toys.
When a child is removed from an abusive home, a foundation volunteer immediately takes a backpack to the child.