Over 75 years ago, the Elks of Illinois recognized the special needs of physically challenged children. During the early years, much of the work consisted of helping children injured in accidents and suffering from the dreaded disease polio. As times progressed and medical treatments developed for many children's diseases, the focus of the program has evolved to meet new needs and challenges. One constant always remained the guiding question, "What can we do to help this child?"
While most charities devote a portion, if not all of their funds to research questions, the Illinois Elks Crippled Children's Program has steadfastly dedicated itself to helping children and parents cop with medical problems today. We strive to provide those services, treatments and equipment needed to ease a child's daily burden in coping with a physical problem.
Many cases are very complex and require custom designed braces, wheelchairs and treatment programs. Others may simply be the provision of corrective shoes or physical/occupational therapy services for three to six months. In all cases, the Illinois Elks Crippled Children's program works to make tcertain that appropriate insurance and state benefits are applied before they provide assistance. In this manner, they stretch their available dollars to help as many children as possible.
Convesely, where no insurance or government benefits are available, they will provide assistance in the cost of treatment as needed. Many times they help parents pay the high deductible of their health insurance. They also help with continued treatments costs which can overwhelm a family's budget. On many occassions the IECCC has been told that they've helped when no one else seemed to care.
To assist any child under the age of 21 who is a legal resident of the State of Illinois with medical assistance, as long as it falls within the IECCC scope and guidelines, regardless of race, creed, sex or national origin.
In addition to direct assistance to the children of Illinois, the IECCC became aware of the growing need for physical therapists to help handicapped children. Since 1970, the program has provided financial aid to college students in the physical therapy field. In 1992, this scholarship program was expanded to include the field of occupational therapy. The intervening years have seen the program grow from 2 applicants in 1970 to over 250 applicants in recent years. The funding for the scholarships has been expanded when available and always on an equal basis with the direct help aspects of the overall program. Recent years have seen over 140 students receiving assistance each year. The development of continuing funding for this program is critical to its expansion.