Florida Keys Elks Lodge 1872 knows how to celebrate for a good cause. After all, almost every night, an Elks member stands outside and blows on a conch shell horn to pay homage to the sunset. And on Saturday, July 31, the lodge will be throwing a “New Year’s in July” party to benefit the Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services.

“​​We want to bring more awareness of this free program to the Keys,” said Brian Sayre, who is an Inner Guard for Lodge 1872 and is helping to organize the benefit. “And what better way to do it than to have a celebration, since we couldn’t do it New Year’s Eve? Let’s just do it in July.”

Sayre speaks highly of the Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services. 

“Children in the Keys are receiving these services, but we know there are more children who can benefit from this great thing, a free service. No doctors, no insurance, no government, no nothing. Though you do have to get a sign-off from the doctor.”

Members helping to organize the Florida Keys Elks Lodge 1872 ‘New Year’s in July’ benefit include Tania Mattson, left, Angela Sayre and Brian Sayre. FLORIDA ELKS CHILDREN’S THERAPY SERVICES/Contributed

The Florida State Elks Association has a long history of providing rehabilitation services to needy children, starting in 1933 with the Harry-Anna Home for Crippled Children. This facility offered free treatment to Florida children who suffered from orthopedic diseases and disabilities. 

The organization has long since evolved. Starting in 1999, a new program of in-home physical and occupational therapy began that covers most of Florida’s 67 counties. It provides mobile in-home children’s therapy services, such as evaluation, occupational therapy, physical therapy, neurodevelopmental treatment and sensory training. Among many other things, the therapy services facilitate development, stimulate learning, improve motor development and promote independence.

A free program for children with disabilities in the Keys, Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services promotes independence. FLORIDA ELKS CHILDREN’S THERAPY SERVICES/Contributed

Testimonials on the Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services’ website rave about the effect of the program on their child.

Parent Cate Chatman said, “I didn’t know there was a name for what Josh had. Now seeing him enjoy the things I knew as a kid means the world. The changes I’ve seen in him and his abilities have been tremendous.”

“The great thing about it is it’s purely funded by the Elks,” said Sayre. “You don’t have the red tape of insurance. That’s what makes it so great. And we’re mobile — we come straight to your house.”

The party will be a “dress to impress” event. “We wanted to make it special,” said Sayre.

From 7 p.m. to midnight, DJ Tony Tone will set the vibe with his musical stylings. A surf and turf dinner will be served, prepared by chef Clark Huff and his team. In between the dining and dancing, guests will learn about the Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services through a presentation by therapist Camille Arevalo.

Champagne will be brought out at midnight “if we last that long,” said Sayre with a laugh.

Tickets for the “New Year’s in July” party are $50 each and $95 for a couple. They are available for purchase at the Florida Keys Elks Lodge 1872 at 92600 Overseas Highway, Tavernier, bayside. More information is at elkstherapy.com.

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Charlotte Twine fled her New York City corporate publishing life and happily moved to the Keys six years ago. She has written for Travel + Leisure, Allure, and Offshore magazines; Elle.com; and the Florida Keys Free Press. She loves her two elderly Pomeranians, writing stories that uplift and inspire, making children laugh, the color pink, tattoos, Johnny Cash, and her husband. Though not necessarily in that order.