Hayden Heavener, representing Jacksonville Lodge, placed fourth in the nation at the Elks national Hoop Shoot contest in Chicago, Illinois, April 22. Hayden’s final score was 21 out of 25. Hayden’s parents, Courtney and Clark Heavener; grandparents Bev and David Heavener; and two brothers traveled to Chicago with him. They met ESPN broadcaster Sarah Spain, who gave the keynote speech about grit and perseverance at the awards banquet. "As long as you tried your hardest, as long as you put in the work, you can look back and say I did right by myself and my family and my competitors. That is truly grit," said Spain. The contestants got a tour of Soldier Field, swapped trading cards, helped make Welcome Home snack bags with the Elks National Veterans Service Commission and had fun in the ENF Hoop Shoot FanZone. Hayden is the first contestant from Jacksonville Lodge to make it to the national level.
Pictured are Hayden Heavener with his two brothers and ESPN broadcaster Sarah Spain, Hayden shooting at the nationals, and his trading card.
The Jacksonville Elks Lodge Americanism Committee visited Waterleaf Elementary School to promote Americanism to the kindergarten and first grade hard of hearing and deaf class April 6. They opened the presentation with the national anthem, Pledge of Allegiance and a moment of silence. Members taught the meaning of the pledge and flag etiquette and presented a classroom flag and pledge kits to each student, which included a personal flag, flag stickers, activity worksheets and a take-home flag lapel pin stapled to the Elks U.S.A. “About Our Flag” brochure to share with their parents. The students were excited to receive the flags and the pledge memory worksheets so they could practice at home with their family and memorize the Pledge of Allegiance. The lodge donated $300 to help start this program for the 2023-2024 term. When asked how the Elks communicated their messages to the students, Carla Ray Rhymes, Americanism Lodge Chair, said, “technology allows for them to have cochlear implants and amplification devices. This is an all-verbal deaf and hard of hearing program provided by Duval County Public School. I know basic American Sign Language to better communicate when necessary with my grandson, who is in this classroom. I also volunteer twice a week within this program. Due to my volunteering, I have established relationships with the students to communicate on a better level.” On May 4, the committee made a 30-day follow-up visit to the class. Most of the students memorized the pledge from beginning to end. One of the students who required minimal assistance was upset and asked to try again, which was the perfect example of patriotic awareness and pride from a kindergartener.
Pictured are Ms. Fernandez, teacher; students Malachi Rackley, Jace Gibbs, Tyrelle Franklin, Eli Smith (Rhymes’ grandson), and Keilia Kwizera Jolly; and Carla Ray Rhymes, Americanism Lodge Chair.
Also pictured are the worksheets.
On April 7, St. Augustine Elks Lodge Exalted Ruler, Joseph Smith, left, presents a $1,500 check to David Patrick, St. Augustine Yacht Club Commodore (right), to support the new Youth Sailing Center at Salt Run.
For the first time, the lodge exceeded $100,000 in charitable donations during the 2022-2023 year, and just $10,000 of this was grant money. In recent years, the lodge has established a series of successful fundraising events, leading to more dollars for investment into the St. Augustine community. Smith believes it is only "the tip of the iceberg" of more to follow. The lodge hopes to be seen as a major player in the continued growth and success of St. Augustine and St. Johns County. A total of $106,915.83 was issued to more than 30 entities last year, including Wildflower Clinic, R.B. Hunt School, Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, Gamble Rodgers Festival, SAYC Youth Sailing Program, Hope For Vets, Marine Corp League, St. Johns Veteran Council, St. Johns County Schools, Boys and Girls Club, Firefighters for Families, YMCA, and many others.
On April 8, Mandarin-St. Johns Elks Lodge #2866 delivered boxes of food to the Mandarin Food Bank. The items were purchased using $1,200 from the Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant. Lodge members Marie Manley and Steve Easton are active volunteers at the food bank.
Pictured are Dan Henderson, Esquire; Virginia Henderson, trustee; Marie Manley, lodge member; Vicky Falzone, trustee; and Steve Easton, PER.
Hayden Heavener, representing Jacksonville Elks Lodge #221, won first place at the lodge and district Hoop Shoots before placing first for boys ages 10-11 at the North regional Hoop Shoot Jan. 28 at Columbia High School in Lake City, Florida. He then advanced to the state Hoop Shoot Feb. 18 at the Florida Elks Youth Camp, where he won first place again. He then went on to the southeast regional competition in Valdosta, Georgia, March 18, again scoring first in his age division, moving him to the national Hoop Shoot later in April. Hayden is the first contestant from Jacksonville 221 to make it to the national level. His grandfather, David Heavener, is an Elks member as well.
Pictured are Hayden and Brent Reedy, Lodge and District Hoop Shoot Chair.