Kel­ly B. Todd: Help­ing Chil­dren One Ses­sion At A Time

CL HARMON

If neces­si­ty is the moth­er of inven­tion then need must be the father of char­i­ty. Across the globe, there are orga­ni­za­tions whose pur­pose is to help those who may not oth­er­wise be able to receive assis­tance. Each one of these offers a ser­vice to human­i­ty that is met by those who under­stand that just a small amount of effort can make have a huge impact in some­one else’s life. In Musko­gee, there is such a place which makes such an impact in fam­i­lies with spe­cial needs chil­dren.

The Kel­ly B. Todd Cere­bral Pal­sy & Neu­ro-Mus­cu­lar Foun­da­tion has its mis­sion root­ed in help­ing those fam­i­lies who are faced with the added chal­lenges of rais­ing chil­dren with phys­i­cal­ly lim­it­ed capa­bil­i­ties. Not only help­ing, but doing so free of charge.

The foun­da­tion (Cen­ter) began in 1975 under the name Green Coun­try but changed in 1979 after the death of Kel­ly Todd whose par­ents David and Bev­er­ly Todd found­ed the cen­ter. When Kel­ly was diag­nosed with cere­bral pal­sy, the cou­ple real­ized that there weren’t any facil­i­ties in the Musko­gee area to help chil­dren like Kel­ly with out­pa­tient therapy…so they start­ed one.

The cou­ple met with staff at the Musko­gee Region­al Med­ical Cen­ter, doc­tors, and busi­ness lead­ers to help orches­trate an ini­tia­tive that would soon become the foun­da­tion. That year began a 43 year-run of no charge ther­a­py for spe­cial needs chil­dren, accord­ing to the foundation’s Exec­u­tive Direc­tor Sharon Rig­gs. She explained that any child who is referred by a pedi­a­tri­cian for ther­a­py is wel­come. The Cen­ter sees chil­dren from new­borns to 21 years of age.

As the Cen­ter is a non-charg­ing facil­i­ty to the fam­i­lies of spe­cial needs chil­dren, Rig­gs has used grant writ­ing to acquire mon­ey. This allows the cen­ter to keep up with its mis­sion. Two dif­fer­ent grants in recent years have allowed for a speech-lan­guage pathol­o­gist, a sec­ond phys­i­cal ther­a­pist and an occu­pa­tion­al ther­a­pist to be brought into the Cen­ter. This was an impor­tant step as it allowed the focus to not only be on chil­dren with cere­bral pal­sy but with any child who with suf­fers neu­ro­log­i­cal and mus­cu­lar dis­or­ders as well as injury-relat­ed con­di­tions and autis­tic chil­dren.

Fund­ing is get­ting hard­er and hard­er each year,” Rig­gs said. Soon­er Care and fam­i­lies with insur­ance are billed to help cov­er the costs of oper­a­tions, but it is not suf­fi­cient. So in addi­tion to these sources, there is still much fund­ing nec­es­sary to keep up with the ris­ing costs of main­tain­ing the facil­i­ty. Fundrais­ing is a large part of acquir­ing those much-need­ed funds.

One fundrais­er is the Christ­mas home Tour which is held each Decem­ber. There is also “A Night in the Trop­ics” held in June and this year a spe­cial char­i­ty golf tour­na­ment in Tahle­quah is sched­uled for May 21. Rig­gs explained that it is vital peo­ple under­stand how impor­tant these fundrais­ers are to the fam­i­lies who uti­lize the cen­ter. She added that 95 per­cent of the mon­ey com­ing into the cen­ter is for pro­gram use with the remain­ing five for admin­is­tra­tive.

There is also a huge need for vol­un­teers as many of the ser­vices need­ed at the cen­ter can’t be afford­ed with its lim­it­ed bud­get. Vol­un­teer­ing not only helps get chores accom­plished. It also allows peo­ple who have not been involved with spe­cial needs chil­dren to gar­ner an under­stand­ing of what that world is like for these chil­dren and their fam­i­lies. Also, it offers insight as to how much enrich­ment is brought into these children’s lives through learn­ing and over­com­ing obsta­cles that most of us take for grant­ed.

Rig­gs said that she hopes this arti­cle helps get the word out about what they are pro­vid­ing to these fam­i­lies and the needs required to main­tain the Cen­ter. She under­stands that the major­i­ty of peo­ple, who do not have close asso­ci­a­tions with spe­cial needs chil­dren and their fam­i­lies, don’t give much thought about the chal­lenges they face sim­ply due to not being exposed to that ele­ment with­in our soci­ety. She added that once peo­ple become famil­iar with Cen­ter and the dif­fer­ence it makes in the lives of these chil­dren, they often become involved with the foun­da­tion.

Once peo­ple become aware that facil­i­ties like Kel­ly B. Todd are the only places where chil­dren can obtain the ther­a­py that offers them a bet­ter qual­i­ty of life, they under­stand the impor­tance that one hour of vol­un­teer work, one dona­tion or just one sim­ple vis­it to the Cen­ter can make in a child’s life.

For more infor­ma­tion about donat­ing or vol­un­teer­ing, vis­it www.kbtoddcpcenter.org

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