FRA’s Heart to Heart program offers full inclusion for students with Down syndrome

Rob Funk (Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – On Friday when the Franklin Road Academy Panthers played Mount Juliet Christian, one teammate worked tirelessly on the sidelines.

Just the mention of Rob Funk’s name brings a smile to the player’s faces.

“Rob Funk that is the man, Rob Funk that is the man!” said the team running back, Sam Harvin.

Rob Funk (Photo: WKRN)
Rob Funk (Photo: WKRN)

“He runs and gets the tee for us. He sprints out there with all that he has. He comes back and he’s tired after one but he gives it all that he has so we love it with him,” said quarterback, Spence Jones.

Rob will be one of the first graduating seniors from Franklin Road Academy’s Heart to Heart Program.

The program is for students who have Down syndrome.

The goal of Heart to Heart is full inclusion; to give students who have special needs the same experience as any other student who attends FRA.

“It has really grown from that one student; we are up to five students this year all the way from 2nd grade to 12th grade,” said  teacher for the Heart to Heart Program and Assistant Football Coach David Dawson.

“They love having him, they embrace him. He is one of us, he has been one of us for a long time and we’re going to be sad to see him go next year,” said Head Coach Bill Whittemore.

Funk loves to help his team. (Photo: WKRN)
Funk help his team. (Photo: WKRN)

“Every Thursday they go and have dinner at one of the senior’s houses. He goes with them just like everybody else does. It is so awesome when I get a picture the next day of all the seniors lying on the couch at their house and he’s right there in the middle of them,” said Dawson.

Reporter Najahe Sherman will have a full report on News 2 at 4 p.m. Stay with for updates. 

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