Welcome to summer 2022!
As I sit down to write this article, I am at a loss for words, especially since we said goodbye to Ben Brown Jr. June 16. Florida Elks will be forever grateful to Ben and to his vision after the hospital closed. Ben had the foresight to recognize that we could do a better job of serving the children of Florida by doing in-home occupational and physical therapy. Ben started with 14 therapists (one for each district) and many of those therapists are still with us today. Under Ben’s leadership until 2015 when he retired, Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services (FECTS) continued to grow, adding more therapists and treating more and more children. Fast forward to 2022; FECTS currently has 30 therapists (23 occupational therapists and seven physical therapists) along with 22 contract speech therapists treating 604 children each week. I know that Ben would be so proud of each of the therapists and the amazing work they do in the name of Florida Elks. Thank you, Ben Brown, for all you did for the Elks of Florida but especially for Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services. You will be missed.
The Unmasking Autism Gala was held April 23, and what an incredible event it was. I know that our Development Director, Dan Masi, will have more detail in his article. I would like to thank Dan; his wife, Casey; and their 21 volunteers who did such an amazing job of bringing the local medical community along with Elks from around the state together to raise funds for Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services. Our keynote speaker, Blaise Runge, was absolutely amazing and is definitely a testament to early treatment and tremendous family involvement which helped Blaise grow up to be such a fine, well-spoken young man. Blaise, congratulations on a job well done; we are all so proud of you.
Once the gala was over, it was time to plan for the state convention. As we have for the past several years at state convention, we introduced our CHAMP (Child Having Achieved Magnificent Progress) of the year. This year’s CHAMP is sweet Jasper Boblin, whose Uncle Johnathan is a member at Jupiter Elks Lodge. Jasper and her family joined us Friday evening at the awards reception and again at the major projects luncheon where she was formally introduced to our members. Jasper was very well-received by our members, and we look forward to seeing her at the Elks Day at the Rays game Sept. 4. Jupiter members report that Jasper is doing so much better since she has been working with her therapist, Diane Corson.
While we were at the state convention, I gave an update of the Killebrew triplets — Jack, Charlie and Benjamin — and their parents, Bridgett and Kevin. The boys were six months old when physical therapist Yvette Lambert started working with them. Born 11 weeks premature, they were in the hospital for two months. Yvette started working with the boys to help them catch up by working on skills appropriate to their age, such as sitting up and rolling over. These little things are so important as a baby starts growing and learning gross motor skills. Well, five years later, the boys are doing amazingly well and will be starting kindergarten in August. They continue to be active, very playful and loving boys. Bridgett and Kevin are forever grateful for the therapy that was provided by Florida
Elks Children’s Therapy Services.
We just got back from the Grand Lodge convention. We were excited to have a major projects booth at the national convention this year. Maria Enlow, occupational therapist from the South Southeast and South districts, joined me in the booth along with our volunteers. While we have seen the new major projects display at the state convention, this was the first time we have been able to use the display at the national convention since St. Louis a couple of years ago. We have a number of Florida Elks who volunteer to work in our major projects booth where we get to brag about all the wonderful things that Florida Elks do for children and veterans.
I thank our therapists who work so hard each day treating children of Florida who so desperately need our services, our administrative staff for keeping up with all that needs to be done, and especially you, our Florida Elks. Without you, we cannot do all the things we do for our children.
I hope you all have a safe and blessed summer.