Community News

Elks Host Carnival for Pediatric Cancer Patients and Their Families

by: Mike Klinger, Leading Knight
Posted: May 22, 2017

ORANGE... "Free rides on the firetruck, free rides on the firetruck", echoed throughout the Elks lodge as Past Lodge President Derek Randles and volunteer Tommy Nester gathered kids and their families to ride aboard an antique firetruck that screamed its' siren for the crowd. The Carnival has started! On Sunday May 21, the Mission Viejo / Saddleback Valley Elks #2444 hosted their annual Cancer Kids Carnival benefiting the Orange County Foundation for Oncology Children and Families (OCF-OCF). The carnival was organized in 2005 by Betty Boelts, then First Lady to ER Harvey Boelts and co-organizer, Stephanie Bongartz. Since its inception, the carnival has grown from 15 volunteers to over 80 this past weekend. Committee chairperson Stephanie Bongartz started the day with a short pep-talk to the volunteers, "I am so excited to see so many volunteers for this year's event. You are the life blood of the Elks and you make it possible for these kids and their families to have a great day and forget their sicknesses. Now, we need people on the cotton candy machine, Snow-cones, games out back and the prize tables. Everyone have fun and thanks!"

California Fire Museum Safety Learning Center gave rides in their antique fire truck



Amy Keran (right) loved the rescued puppies



Hayden got his exercise running thru the lodge room with streaming balloons


Throughout the day, over 100 guests entered the balloon-filled lodge room, everyone greeted with warm smiles of volunteers handing out event tee-shirts and backpacks filled with goodies. Once the kids finished lunch of corn-dogs, chicken fingers, fries and lemonade, many stopped at volunteer tables to get a temporary tattoo or face painting, spent time coloring or added some color streaks with hair braids. Through the back doors and into the lodge backyard where the sights and sounds of the carnival were underway with the sweet smell of cotton-candy and the sounds of ice grinding for Snow-cones. Lecturing Knight, Jamie Camunas and member AJ Pompos helped kids with the bounce-house leading their way down a tall, wet slide. Chaplain, Lane Keran helped manage the prize room with volunteers at every table eagerly waiting for the prize winners. Exalted Ruler, Mike Long, and volunteer Lloyd Bryan seemed to have the most fun watching the kids scoop plastic ducks from the pool-pond.  

Volunteer Margie Bierschmitt helps Alejandro and Liliana with Elks Coloring books



Alejandro picked up his prizes from Volunteers Lucky Walsh (left) and Georgia



After last years' reptile exhibit which had the kids tangled with snakes and lizards, Mowgli Rescue brought in their puppy pen with eight delightful little puppies that melted the hearts of the kids and some adults. All the puppies are rescue dogs and were just adorable. Another highlight of the day was the antique firetruck on exhibit by the California Fire Museum and Safety Learning Center. Representatives from the museum had a booth set-up with historical photos and memorabilia, but best of the day was a ride on the firetruck with the siren screaming. The kids and parents alike piled in the rear of the engine, sat in the jump seats and even the co-pilot chair as the engine roared around the parking lot, everyone with a bright red fire hat on. Truly a treat for these kids. 


Alejandro and his sisters, Liliana and Angela, picked from hundreds of Beanie Babies as their mother, Beatrice watched. Helping in the prize room was volunteers Lodge Chaplain, Lane Keran, Gail Patti (center) and Diana Wilson.



Boy did all the kids enjoy the Fire Truck rides with sirens blaring!



"Boy has this event grown," explained ER Mike Long. "It is so energizing to see the happy faces of the kids and so many volunteers, and by the end of the day, it may be hot outside but so much good was done here today to help these kids and their families. Elks do care, Elks do share!" 

Fire Truck rides throughout the parking lot with sirens on was a real treat for the kids.



The Rescued Puppy Pen was a hit of the carnival



As the carnival ended and clean-up was done, we need to thank every member and volunteer, the Mowgli Puppy Rescue and California Fire Museum, that took time out of their valuable Sunday to give back to our community. The community of kids and families that need our help. A good Elk is an ACTIVE Elk. Thanks again to are truly Good Elks!

Anthony and his sister took a liking to this little snowball!



Young Volunteer, Zack, found a new 4-legged friend



Orange County Foundation for Oncology Children and Families (OCF-OCF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, volunteer-run organization providing year-round recreational and social activities designed to foster supportive relationships for pediatric cancer patients and their families.

Cotton Candy is always a favorite, but on a hot day sno-cones were a must



Exalted Ruler, Mike Long, and volunteer, Lloyd Bryan helped the youngsters with the ever popular “duck pond”



The Mission Viejo/Saddleback Valley Elks Lodge #2444 is celebrating 48 years of service to Saddleback Valley Communities. It is one of 10 lodges in the Orange Coast District of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (BPOE) whose headquarters is in Chicago, Illinois. The BPOE is a charitable organization with a 149-year history of giving. "Elks Care Elks Share" For information regarding Elks programs or membership, call 949-830-3557. Photos:OrangeElks

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