I’m happy to report that all is well with Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services.
In February, we had our Grand Exalted Ruler with us for our quarterly meeting. What a wonderful message he had for our members; he talked about our ritual in a way we have not heard before.
We also had our CHAMP, Emily Bulson, and her mother with us for the major projects meeting. Emily spoke briefly and State President Suzi Simonelli presented her with the first-pitch ball that she threw out and the jersey she wore at our Day at the Rays game. Emily was surprised and happy! Tina Morris, OT spoke about how Emily has progressed since she started working with her.
The annual therapist meeting was held March 7-10 at the Florida Elks Youth Camp, and what a great week it was. We had 27 of our 30 therapists at the camp for the week. Guest speaker, Marti Smith, presented a continuing education class on understanding trauma in early childhood development for occupational and physical therapists, which is so difficult for parents and therapists to deal with in today’s world. Smith was an excellent speaker and our therapists gained so much from this session. This year, we did something a little different and all our therapists stayed on campus, and the youth camp staff along with Chef Cliff and his staff made this a special year for us all. Many stories were shared about patients and how each therapist treats patients and which methods are most successful for them. We also spent the evenings visiting with each other, which has been difficult over the last two years.
While we were at our meeting, we chose our new CHAMP — Jasper — who just turned 8 years old. She and her Uncle Johnathan will be joining us at the state convention as well as the Elks Day at the Rays. Jasper has been diagnosed with chorea syndrome, which is a movement disorder that causes involuntary, irregular and unpredictable muscle movements. She was chosen as our CHAMP because she has made tremendous strides in such a short time, is so optimistic and is eager to learn. Her uncle is a veteran who has stepped up and started the adoption process for a sweet little girl who has many obstacles to overcome, making him a true hero not only to Jasper but to all who have met him.
We also chose our family that will have a week at the timeshare owned by Florida Elks Properties. Emily Bulson and her family will choose a week to stay at the property. It's been a couple of years since we have been able to send a family and we were all pleased that the Bulson family was chosen.
This past weekend, I was able to visit with Jasper and her uncle at Jupiter Lodge #2469 during a fundraiser for the family. Jasper had such a wonderful time; there were so many people there to celebrate her and her uncle and their wonderful story. The lodge did an incredible job at the event. They had a car show and activities for the children. Jasper’s therapist, Diane Corson, OT, shared with everyone the wonderful job our therapists do. While I was there, several members mentioned how much progress Jasper has made over the last few months and how impressed they were. Lauren Dowd-Shedlock, Exalted Ruler, and her volunteers had more than 80 baskets available for an auction. There was a cake auction as well. Hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken and side dishes were served. Everything was absolutely amazing, and I can tell you firsthand that Jasper had a blast!
Every day, I wake up grateful that I can work with the most talented occupational and physical therapists, along with our administrative staff of Deborah Hall and Cristin Rumler. Our therapists absolutely love their jobs, the children they treat and the members of the Florida State Elks for making this all possible. It is because of your hard work and dedication that we are able to treat over 590 children every week.
On behalf of all our therapists, Deborah and Cristin, thank you for your amazing support. We deeply appreciate all you do for Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services and the patients.