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Care Of The Crippled Child
How It Began
. . .A tragic street car accident on Middle Avenue in Elyria, Ohio. . .
Memorial Day, 1907. . .
In addition to the 80 injured, nine were killed, including a young man named Homer Allen, due to graduate from high school in a few days. . .
This tragedy underlined the need for an adequate, modern hospital in the community. . .
Homer's father, business man Edgar Allen, recognized the need -- and started work with other friends. . .
By the fall of 1908 the new and modern Elyria Memorial Hospital opened its doors. . .
By 1909 Edgar Allen, in addition to his voluntary full-time responsibility as Treasurer of the Hospital, began turning his thoughts to the care of Crippled Children. . .
A survey conducted in 1910 showed that in Lorain County (Ohio) there were over 200 crippled children whose only care was what could be given in their own homes. . .
Edgar Allen's concern was made known to others. . .
In September 1915, the Gates Hospital for Crippled Children was opened as the Children's Orthopedic Unit of Elyria Memorial Hospital. . .
The name "Gates" was added in recognition of one of the most generous donors. . .Why Rotary?
A brand new hospital -- "Gates" -- doors open, staff ready to give care -- but few patients!. . .
There was need but why didn't the parents bring their children for treatment?. . .
It may have been a false sense of shame, or guilt, on the part of many parents; too many crippled children were "hidden" in those days. . .
It may have been a lack of funds (even at $1.00 per day for care!). . .
It may have been doubt. . .lack of knowledge of this source of help. . .
Whatever it was, Edgar Allen, who joined Rotary in 1919, felt that something should be done about it, and that Elyria Rotarians could help. . .
What was needed, he felt, was some organization to "span the gulf between the parents and the hospital". . .
In April 1919, with the encouragement of Sam Squire (Charter Member -- Elyria Rotary), Rotarians from Elyria, Cleveland and Toledo formed the "Ohio Society for Crippled Children", composed entirely, at the time, of Rotarians. . .
By the end of 1919 the Ohio State Legislature had passed the "Comings Bill" (submitted by William R. Comings, superintendant of schools in Elyria), providing for hospital care for Crippled Children.
"Although E.F. Allen is the name most widely associated with leadership in the Crippled Children movement, it was devoted, modest men like Harry Howett who helped make E.F. Allen's dream a national and international reality".
Mr. Hewitt, who was Secretary-Treasurer of the Elyria Memorial Hospital, Chairman of the Crippled Children Committee of the Elyria Rotary Club, member of the board of directors of the Ohio Society for Crippled Children, conducted the "Easter Seal Sale" drive in Elyria for many years.Why Rotary? (cont.)
The $15,000 annual limitation in cost was inadequate so Edgar Allen and Elyria Rotarian Harry Howett (who was by then secretary of the Ohio Society) worked on a different bill. . .
Under Edgar Allen's leadership, and with great assistance from Rotarians throughout the state, Ohio became one of the first to have a complete program for Crippled Children. . .
But, as Harry Howett pointed out in the 1920s, "the greatest impact of the Crippled Children Societies was the change in attitude. . .a great increase in public treatment. . .and a remarkable change in the attitude of parents". . .
The success of the Ohio Society for Crippled Children brought profound interest from Rotary Clubs throughout the country. . .
Generous assistance from many of these clubs brought into being the National Society for Crippled Children. The name was later changed to the International Society for Crippled Children, with some form of affiliation with countries throughout the world. . .and, naturally, Edgar Allen was the first President of the International Society.Medical Care
Early in the program, Edgar Allen realized that successful treatment of crippled children would not only depend on desire or need, but on the best that could be secured by way of Medical Leadership. . .
The appointment of Clarence Heyman, M.D., of Cleveland, to supervise and provide that skilled leadership was a great achievment on the road to success. . .
Dr. Heyman's service to Crippled Children in Elyria lasted over 30 years. . .
This doctor was ably assisted by many other doctors, whose recognition must remain anonymous, but the fact that Elyria Memorial Hospital has been approved by national medical accrediting groups for residency education in orthopedic surgery reveals the standards of excellence achieved. . .Many Helped!
Rotarians in Elyria, Ohio, do not wish to make any exaggerated claims regarding early day interest in work for Crippled Children. . .
Edgar Allen was not the only Rotarian who was expressing concern for Crippled Children. . .
The "Call for Help" on behalf of Crippled Children was heard by Rotarians in New York State -- West Virginia -- in Michigan and Kentucky -- in Illinois and Pennsylvania. . .