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Florida State Elks Association Inc.
P.O. Box 49
Umatilla, FL 32784-0049

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Welcome to springtime in Gallant Colleen 2018 for webFlorida. It is indeed a beautiful day here in Umatilla at the Florida Elks Youth Camp!

We continue to be incredibly busy at Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services.

First, I want to thank all the lodges that had Christmas parties and events for our therapy children. We are so grateful for your continued support. This helps us with families who might not be able to provide their children with Christmas presents. A special thank you goes to the Past State Presidents’ wives for their generosity of giving gift cards to our families. We also received gift cards from the Gainesville Garden Club and the St. Petersburg Lodge #1224 PER Association. This makes such a difference in the lives of our patients who have so little. Once again, the Northwest District has provided a check for our therapist, Elizabeth Maina, to purchase new jackets for our patients in the colder Northwest District. Thank you, Elizabeth, for doing all the shopping.

Our February quarterly was a great meeting, welcoming our Grand Exalted Ruler, Randy Shook, and his wife, Wanda. Our members look forward each year to meeting our Grand Exalted Ruler and spouse and spending time with them. Tressy Guadagno, occupational therapist, was our speaker, and she did an incredible job of talking to our members about what we do in Therapy Services.

We are very happy to announce that we have hired three new therapists. Arlyn Jackson, PT in St. Augustine will be replacing Rae Montgomery in Jacksonville, who retired March 31. We wish Rae all the best in retirement as she enjoys having a new grandbaby. Katelyn Hannigan was hired in the North Central District as well as Central District, covering Citrus County and Hernando County. Courtney Hersch, PT has been hired in the Southwest Central District to cover Polk County and East Hillsborough County. By adding two more therapists, we have adjusted the areas covered by four other therapists, which will better enable us to service all these areas.

As we celebrate 25 years since FECTS began, it is a great time to remember that once the hospital closed, PSP Ben Brown had a vision for in-home occupational and physical therapy provided by the Elks of Florida, one where the therapists would go into a home for an hour each week to work with a child and help the family understand what they needed to do to help their child progress. We started with 14 therapists in 1999 (one for each district) and we currently have 32 therapists. Ben would be so proud of how the program has grown.

Each year, the therapists come to the Florida Elks Youth Camp for our annual therapy conference. The therapists were all thrilled with their continuing education speaker and were in class for two full days, from 8:30 to 5:30. Jane Russo, PT, describes what they learned: “Our instructor was Greg Soloman and he was assisted by his wife, Coni Soloman. The course objective was to provide therapists with treatments for children that will improve their hand-eye coordination, bilateral coordination, motor planning, frustration tolerance and sensory regulation.” Once the classes were over, the therapists had time for fellowship and sharing ideas on how to treat their patients. What a wonderful group of therapists we have.

A special thank you goes to Carl Seibert, COO/State Secretary, and his staff; Chef Victor, along with Brice and his entire staff, for such incredible meals; and to Jay and his staff for all you did to make us comfortable. Each one of you made this event very special for our therapists and they all agree it was the best!

While the therapists were at the camp, we nominated a deserving family to spend a week at the timeshare, owned by Florida Elks Properties. This year, the recipient is CHAMP Joshua Garcia and his family. Joshua is now in the eighth grade and continues to lead an active lifestyle in and out of school. He recently started to play the trombone in the jazz ensemble band and performs throughout the community. He continues to play basketball but is also exploring new sports as well. He is training for a 5K bicycle race sponsored by the Nirvana Project, a nonprofit organization that supports athletes with disabilities within adaptive sports. You can also find Joshua on the tennis courts, as he is working on his backhand and his serve. His next challenge is learning how to drive and getting ready for high school. The Garcia family is thankful for all the support they received through the Florida Elks.

One of the highlights of the annual meeting is to choose a new CHAMP (Child Having Achieved Magnificent Progress) and this year our new CHAMP is Everett Feger, a 9-year-old who has Down syndrome. He and his family live in Seminole, Florida. Everett and his family will join us at the state convention. Tressy Guadagno, OTR/L, shares some information about him.

“Everett is an amazing 9-year-old who has Down syndrome. He initially started with the FECTS family in 2021 and received OT for 10 months. He began OT services again two years later with FECTS. He is a super friendly and a hardworking boy who has an amazing family — Andre and Barbie and an older sister, Clara. Barbie is a schoolteacher and works with him constantly to help reach his full potential academically. They have a great support system to help with his successes with family and friends and they are all dedicated to help him succeed overall. In OT we work on fine motor, gross motor, bilateral hand skills, handwriting, sight words/spelling, overall strengthening and coordination, as well as staying on tasks and completing tasks in a timely manner. He loves working with obstacle courses that challenge his endurance, balance and strength as well as tabletop tasks involving visual motor and overall strengthening of fine motor skills. Everett is such a joy to work with and I absolutely love his parents.”

If you would like a therapist at your event, please complete the therapist participant form and we will do our best to have a therapist at your event.

Thank you all for your continued support of our major projects. Without you, we cannot continue to treat the children of Florida. Thank you for the opportunity to continue to work with our incredible therapists and you, the amazing Elks of Florida!

Colleen Gallant

Florida Elks Children's Therapy Services