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Downey Elks Lodge Raises Money for Rancho Los Amigos Pediatrics

By Tammye McDuff

For years the Downey Elks Lodge #2020 has been quietly raising funds to send children from the Rancho Los Amigos Hospital on an annual, all expense paid trip to Disneyland. In order to raise finances, the Lodge hosts an annual fundraiser. The theme has been changed from the traditional Luau to embrace Jimmy Buffets “Margaritaville”.

November 11, 2014 is the day set for this yearly excursion. Six to twelve lucky kids will be selected from the Rancho Los Amigos pediatric wing. Each child attends Disneyland in a wheelchair in order to easily maneuver through the crowds. With each child a parent or guardian must be present, one nurse accompanies every two children, and at least one doctor must be in attendance. Along with this entourage are those individuals from the Lodge that act as assistants to each child, to push wheelchairs, promote social engagement and aid in whatever area’s necessary. Taking more than 40 people to a theme park is a huge undertaking. The Lodge is hoping to raise $3000.00 for the trip. Julie Helgren is the representative from Rancho Los Amigos who organizes this annual experience.

Margaritaville will be held this Saturday evening, October 18, 2014. The flyer states the party will begin at 4:00 pm and run until ‘whenever’. The band ‘Wasted Time’ will be performing live and $3 Margaritas will be served all night long. The back courtyard of the Lodge will serve ‘Paradise Burgers’; host canoe races; a limbo contest; raffle prizes and a 50/50 opportunity to walk away with cash.

The Downey Elks Lodge began in 1957 as one of the first service organizations in the city. “The main focus of this Lodge is to lend a hand to children in need” says Trustee Dan Jones “There was a young six year old boy who had always wanted to ride a carousel. This boy was completely paralyzed from the neck down. Riding a carousel was an impossible dream. Disneyland closed the carousel to the general public, allowing only our Lodge to have access.” Jones continues the story by remembering that four lodge members, hosted the young boy onto a carousel animal that went up and down, with four men, one on each side holding him up, this six year old boy was able to ride a carousel. There are many cases of children’s recovery being set in forward momentum because of this trip. Jones recalls a 13 year old girl who had suffered a severe stroke. She was completely paralyzed on the right side and had not spoken since the stroke. Doctors were confident that she would recuperate, however it was taking longer than had been expected. Jones was assigned to be the wheelchair aid for her. Through constant social interaction with Jones, his wife and the guardian, this young woman was able to pronounce her name and that of Jones by the end of the day.

“That’s what this organization is all about” says Exalted Ruler Byron “Bud” Buck; we want to make a difference, no matter how small in the lives of these kids.”

Margaritaville will be held at the Downey Elks Lodge #202 at 11233 S. Woodruff Avenue. Tickets will be available at the door and open to the public, if you mention reading this article, tickets will be available at a discounted price of $12.00 for adults and $6.00 for children.