The PER Association of St. Petersburg Elks Lodge #1224 sponsored and purchased the tickets for the attendance of Geneva Hall and Delaney Hall to the Harry-Anna Trust Unmasking Autism Gala of Hope April 13. The event was held at the Carillon Hilton in St. Petersburg, Fla., and Spectrum Bay News 9 morning anchor Erica Riggins was the Mistress of Ceremonies.
Geneva Hall has been a member of St. Petersburg Lodge and a very active volunteer since 2005. She is Delaney’s mother and Delaney has Asperger syndrome. Asperger syndrome is a condition considered to be a high-functioning form of autism. Delaney was 17.5 years old when she was officially diagnosed with this syndrome, a journey that started for Geneva when Delaney was 14 months old.
Geneva was honored to speak about autism, her journey and Florida Elk Charities at the gala. When Delaney was a sixth-grader, Geneva no longer had the financial security or the insurance to cover Delaney’s therapies for her developmental delay. In 2007, Geneva remembered the video she saw during her initiation two years before – the Elks have a physical therapy program! Geneva inquired at her lodge if she could receive these services for her daughter. After a few phone calls, Delaney was enrolled, and the Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services therapist Larry Lester came to their house according to Geneva’s time and schedule as a single working mom. Delaney completed the program and by the end was much more confident in her physical self. This service allowed Delaney to continue to have her much-needed speech therapy and eased the financial burden that Geneva had to carry.
Delaney also spoke at the gala: “The experience enabled me to have the confidence to decide to compete in bocce, bowling and basketball skills for Special Olympics. Today I am proud to be an Athlete Leader for Special Olympics. I have two jobs – as an administrative assistant and I have autism. More and more children are diagnosed with autism and educating you about inclusion is important. My mom always gives me positive thoughts, and this is one of my favorites. It’s not what you go through in life. It’s how you react to it.”