Florida Elks News Editor:
Rachael King
 
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Florida State Elks Association Inc.
P.O. Box 49
Umatilla, FL 32784-0049
352-669-9443

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2383 Marissa

On June 19, Marissa Ciesla, a 2009 Brandon Elks Lodge $1,000 scholarship recipient, successfully defended her thesis to obtain her doctorate. She will graduate in August with her doctorate in biomedical sciences with a focus on neuroscience. Each year the lodge hosts a banquet recognizing outstanding high school seniors in their area and awards students with scholarships. Usually the lodge receives thank-you letters and never hears from these students again. Ciesla was the exception. In 2011 upon turning 21, she joined Brandon Lodge and became the youngest member of the lodge at that time. She is also the only scholarship recipient to have ever joined the lodge. She graduated from Brandon Senior High School in 2009 where she was president of her senior class. In 2012 she received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of South Florida in biomedical sciences with minors in psychology and biomedical physics. In 2014 she continued her education at the University of South Florida obtaining a Master of Science degree in medical sciences with a concentration in neuroscience. In 2015 she entered the College of Medicine’s graduate program in biomedical sciences at the University of Florida. During her doctorate research, she studied therapies to enhance serotonergic reinnervation of motor nuclei after cervical spinal cord injury which is a way of improving the breathing ability of people with a damaged spinal cord in their neck. She also authored and published five papers in support of her research. Other achievements include the McKnight Brain Institute Fellowship, the Bryan Robinson Endowment, the Toffler Leadership Award, the Caroline tum Suden Opportunity Award, the International Symposium on Neural Regeneration Travel Award and the Respiration Section Trainee Poster Presentation Award. Her father is an officer and is on the lodge board and her mother was last year’s and is this year’s president of the Brandon Ladies organization. Her father notes, “Terri and I (Ed) became members of the lodge because of the scholarship. When we walked into the event hall for the scholarship banquet, it just felt like home to us. So we asked PER Kim Martinez about membership and she sponsored us. The scholarship program is the whole reason we are involved as Elks.”

 

1727 unity tour

On Jan. 25, Plant City Elks Lodge volunteers partnered with The Wooden Spoon, Universal Tire and Auto Repair, the Plant City Police Department, and the community for a barbecue lunch to raise funds for the Plant City Police Department to participate in the Police Unity Tour. The Police Unity Tour is a yearly event that starts 250 miles outside Washington, D.C., in Virginia and ends at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. There is a fee to ride in this tour. The primary purpose of the tour is to raise awareness of law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty; the secondary purpose is to raise funds for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. The event raised over $5,000 which will be used to cover the $2,000 entry fee for each of the two Plant City officers riding, and $1,000 will be donated to maintain and enlarge the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. Two of the four barbecue organizers were lodge members George Domedian and Judy Wise, and 15 lodge volunteers participated. With the help of off-duty officers, the “drive-through” pickup of a barbecue lunch at The Wooden Spoon restaurant went smoothly. The giant law enforcement flag was displayed by Brewington Towing.

 

Plant City Lodge Americanism chairman, Ed Wise, and member J.J. Calhoun keep watch for torn or faded American flags flying at homes around Plant City, Fla. When one is found, they meet with the owner or leave a letter written on lodge letterhead informing them of an offer to replace the worn flag with a new one. When the offer has been accepted, they make the replacement. They offer this service to veterans, the elderly and low-income folks.  

Calhoun is pictured.

 

1529 horse

On Dec. 20, Sebring Lodge presented the Hartland Horses & Handicap organization a check for $2,000 from the Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant. Hartland Horses & Handicap is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to use horses “to challenge perceived limitations of children and adults with disabilities that help them learn and grow while improving their lives.” Pictured are Hartland board member Mary Moll; lodge member and volunteer, Cheryl Paplaskas; board member Bonnie Williamson; Exalted Ruler, Ken Hedges; and board member Claire Langway.

 

On Dec. 15, East Polk Elks Lodge #2882 hosted a Christmas party for the children from the Light House School for the Visually Impaired from Winter Haven, Fla. They also invited the Silver Spurs Cloggers, a group which has children who would otherwise be unable to afford dance lessons. Both Elroy the Elk and Santa visited with the children and all children received a warm jacket or sweatshirt and at least one toy they wanted. The Winter Haven Police and Fire Department also visited the lodge to give demonstrations to the children.

2882 santa

Santa (Kenny Jenkins) visits with children at East Polk Lodge’s Christmas party Dec. 15 while member Mary Lou Collins assists.

2882 Elroy

Elroy the Elk (Boone Deyo) greets children at East Polk Lodge’s Christmas party Dec. 15.

 

On Dec. 15, East Polk Elks Lodge #2882 hosted a Christmas party for the children from the Light House School for the Visually Impaired from Winter Haven, Fla. They also invited the Silver Spurs Cloggers, a group which has children who would otherwise be unable to afford dance lessons. Both Elroy the Elk and Santa visited with the children and all children received a warm jacket or sweatshirt and at least one toy they wanted. The Winter Haven Police and Fire Department also visited the lodge to give demonstrations to the children.

2882 santa

Santa (Kenny Jenkins) visits with children at East Polk Lodge’s Christmas party Dec. 15 while member Mary Lou Collins assists.

2882 Elroy

Elroy the Elk (Boone Deyo) greets children at East Polk Lodge’s Christmas party Dec. 15.

 

2383 elves

Brandon Lodge adopted eight families with a total of 17 children and made sure these families enjoyed a wonderful Christmas. On Dec. 18 there was plenty of Christmas spirit at the lodge with Christmas carols playing while elves wrapped gifts. Grandchildren of lodge members were sharing in the merriment and learning first-hand what Elks do! This is an annual tradition, and each year, families are sought that have fallen on hard times. Marionette Sexton, Lecturing Knight, chairs this event. Lodge members choose a child to adopt and purchase and wrap presents. An entire Christmas dinner is also provided to the families.

Brandon Lodge members Donald Harrison; Nancy Price, treasurer; and Nickie Wells, PER, trustee, wrap Christmas gifts Dec. 18 at the lodge for local families.