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

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Gallant Colleen 2018 for web

Welcome to summer 2021 and what an improvement it is over summer 2020!

All of us at Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services are extremely happy to be back at full speed; therapists are in homes working with the children. I can assure you that the children and parents are equally happy to have the therapists back in their homes.

We are finally back to our pre-COVID numbers, and our 30 therapists are treating more than 508 children each week. We continue to use contract therapists for speech, and they are treating an additional 25 children each week. As our two new therapists settle in, you will see these numbers continue to increase.

I am pleased to say that our state convention was incredible. It was so great to see so many members after this long year. We were able to attend all the boards of director meetings and meet and mingle with our fellow Elks. It truly was a great convention.

Tina Morris, PT in south Florida spoke to our members at our major projects luncheon about Emily Bulson, our CHAMP of the year. We had planned on having Emily and her family join us, but unfortunately, Emily was running a fever and the family was unable to attend. Tina shared videos of Emily taking her first steps and now walking with braces and crutches. Emily is such a fighter and continues to work well with Tina. Emily’s family is amazing when it comes to working with her to help her make progress.

A few months ago, I was contacted by a member who told me that there was a local sheriff’s deputy whose 12-year-old daughter had surgery for scoliosis and had a rod placed in her back. The day after the surgery, she could not move, and they felt like it was a lingering effect of the anesthesia. Unfortunately, it was not the anesthesia. Instead, she had a spinal cord stroke and is now paralyzed from the neck down. From Orlando, Florida, she was sent for rehab in Chicago. The rehab facility contacted us and asked if we could help with a specially made car seat that would keep her head in a safe position so she could travel safely. They were able to send her home with a loaned one, but it had to be returned to the rehab hospital. We were aware of her condition since the lodge had already contacted us. I reached out to Jane Russo, our PT in central Florida, and asked her to work with the hospital and get the particulars so that we could make an informed decision as to whether we could help her. She was released to go home in April 2021, and at that time, Chrissy Nathan, OT started treating her at home. Chrissy says that she participates well in therapy sessions. She can now hold and throw a ball with minimal assistance. She can independently bring her right hand to her mouth which is a prerequisite for feeding herself. She is also able to prop on her forearms over a wedge for over 30 minutes while moving her head to track an object. She loves music and books. Chrissy incorporates these into her weekly sessions for fun and motivation. Chrissy has also instructed her mother in the use of an electrical stimulation unit to develop more muscle in areas of her body for strength. Our patient is in good spirits and is making progress. She has good potential for further progress and FECTS will continue to provide weekly OT. I am pleased to say that Tina Morris, PT will now be working with Chrissy’s patient, providing the much-needed physical therapy. 

Each one of our therapists has amazing success stories and they are all eager to share these stories with our members. So, when you have an opportunity to visit with one of our therapists, please ask them to share some of their success stories.

As our lodges have more and more events, please remember that the therapist in your area may be available to be at your event. Please complete the therapist participation form on the website and I will forward it to your local therapist and if they are available, they will be pleased to be at your event.

Last year, we were not able to have our annual Family Camp due to COVID-19. We are looking forward to once again having this event where the therapists invite the children they treat along with their families to the Florida Elks Youth Camp for a weekend. The camp staff and the therapists and their families work to make this an amazing event for the children our therapists treat as well as for their siblings. Fortunately, we have volunteers from the OT/PT schools in our state who come to camp and help.

On behalf of our therapists and administrative staff, thank you for all you do to keep our therapists treating the children who need our help. Please know that we sincerely appreciate you and all that you do for Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services.

Please take care and stay safe!

Colleen Gallant
Florida Elks Children's Therapy Services