Over 85 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 suffereing the dreaded disease polio. As times progressed and medical treatments were developed for many children's diseases, the focus of the program has evolved to meet new needs and challenges. One constant always remained in 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 Children's Care Program has steadfastly dedicated itself to helping children and parents cope 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, we work to be certain appropriate insurance and state benefits are applied before the Elks provide assistance. In this manner, we stretch our available dollars to help as many children as possible. Conversely, where no insurance or government benefits are available, we will provide assistance in the cost of treatment as needed. Many times we help parents pay the high deductible of their health insurance. We also help with continuing treatment costs which can overwhelm a family budget. On many occasions we have been told we helped when no one else seemed to care.
In addition to direct assistance for children, the Illinois Elks 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 two 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.
...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. (Some restrictions apply, e.g., transplants, catastrophic illness, etc.) For clarification contact the office of the IECCC.