Turnout, fun exceeds expectations at Eagles carnival

A cold, rainy Saturday didn't dampen the efforts of those who planned and participated in the Eagles Child Health & Safety Carnival and "Child Advocacy Day" held Oct. 3, at the Eagles Club in Vermillion.

In fact, turnout for the event surpassed expectations.

"We're having a great turnout," Geri Dooley, junior past president of the local Eagles Club and co-chair of the carnival, said early Saturday afternoon among the din of scores of kids having fun at the various booths set up inside the Eagles. "Lisa (Ketcham) has done a great job getting this out to the public, and bringing it indoors. And the different people that we've got participating this year is great. A lot of that can be attributed to Lisa and her hard work."

Lisa is vice president of the Eagles Auxiliary.

Vermillion's event was part of a nation-wide happening going on by Eagles clubs from coast to coast.

"We (the national Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie and Auxiliary) just donated today $5 million to the diabetes foundation. That's one of the big kick-offs of this Child Advocacy Day – it's to battle childhood diabetes, and it's also to provide funding for the D.A.R.E. program and our police programs in our local communities."

The money raised through free-will donations at Saturday's carnival is sent by the local Fraternal Order of Eagles to its national office. "There, the national organization will double our money. If we make $500 today, they'll give us $1,000."

Saturday's event marked the third year of the carnival in Vermillion. It raised $3,000 two years ago, including the matching grant from the national office. Last year, $2,000 was raised.

The funds go to the local sheriff's office to help with the D.A.R.E. program, and helps pay for domestic violence services offered by the Vermillion Police Department. Some of the funding raised by the carnival also has made it possible to place portable defibrillators in local law enforcement vehicles.

Lisa had hoped 100 kids and their parents would be attracted to Saturday's carnival. That goal was surpassed; 120 children experienced the wide range of events offered at the Eagles Club that day.

"We like to get as much participation from community organizations as well as university organizations so they can showcase health and wellness of all different kinds, ranging from vision and dental to physical therapy," she said. "And of course, we want the police department here with its D.A.R.E. program. We like to get a lot of kids involved and get kids exposed to health and wellness at an early age."

Kids had a blast making their own puppets, getting their faces painted, and watching as clowns Mickey and Jewel made and gave away balloon animals. They also interacted with local law enforcement and students from a wide range of disciplines at USD, from dental hygiene and communication disorders, to physical therapy.

"Every kid gets a treat bag with items such as coloring books and books with a message that tells them how they're special because of their unique talents," Lisa said. "There's lots of fun things for everybody here.

Participants, sponsors, and partners of the carnival include the Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie and Auxiliary members, the city of Vermillion, Vermillion Police Department, Clay County Sheriff's Office, Clay County Child Protection Team, Vermillion Fire & EMS, Vermillion Chamber of Commerce & Development Company, Vermillion Parks & Recreation, Sanford Vermillion, Vermillion Public Library, Hy-Vee, Wal-Mart, Pizza Hut, Casey's, Vermillion Chiropractic, American Family Insurance, Market Street Café, McDonald's, Amy's Whoopti Do, Chesterman/Coca-Cola, Prairie Eye Clinic, Rebel Style, Brady Enterprises, USD Dental Hygiene, USD Communication Sciences and Disorders, USD Physical Therapy, United Way of Vermillion, Birth-to-Three and Three-to-Five Development Programs, Vermillion Taekwondo, "Mickey" and "Jewel" the Clowns, and the B, B, & B BBQ Team.

Michelle Haskell and Kelly Thurman also pitched in to help Geri and Lisa organize the event and make sure things ran smoothly that day.

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