RED BANK, NJ – On Saturday April 2nd, the Red Bank Elks Lodge #233 held its 100th Annual Charity Ball, honoring 4-year old Leo Olsen, our Child of the Year.

Every year the lodge finds and supports a local child with special needs and provides assistance to the child and the family throughout the year and beyond. Leo Olsen was diagnosed with Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy, and has had other health challenges throughout his very young life. And although his motor skills have been greatly affected, Leo’s spirit and courage remain unswayed. His mother Cristina, army veteran father Fred, older brother Pierce and younger brother Ty, feel truly blessed to have this smart, loving and funny little boy in their lives.


Leo Olsen and his mother, Cristina, share a dance

And now, so does the Lodge.

Leo called the Lodge members he met at the Ball his “Elk friends”; and his new friends gave Leo 3 of his favorite things: a Panda bear stuffed animal (he later named “Elky”), a NY Giants T-shirt and a NJ Devils hat.

At the charity ball, the lodge raised money for items that can help make Leo’s life and mobility a little easier—a wheelchair ramp, car lift, or any other household and transportation needs. Leo has had some tough obstacles, but he’s strong, truly special, and deserves a shot at independence.

And the night was topped off when Leo and his brother Pierce sang along to one of their favorite country songs, The Impossible, by Joe Nichols:

And Billy couldn’t feel his legs
Said he’d never walk again
But Billy said he would and his mom and daddy prayed
And the day we graduated, he stood up to say:
Unsinkable ships, sink
Unbreakable walls, break
Sometimes the things you think would never happen
Happen just like that
Unbendable steel, bends
If the fury of the wind is unstoppable
I’ve learned to never underestimate
The impossible

The Red Bank Elks Lodge also supports many other local special needs children throughout the year by sponsoring “Camperships”, trips in the summer to the NJ Elks Special Needs camp, Camp Moore. This year, the Red Bank Elks will send 9 children for a week-long stay and 24 young adults for a weekend, to enjoy the pool, playground, and daily activities at the camp—helping each camper experience new adventures, lasting friendships, and opportunities that promote independence and greater self-confidence.

Also, every month, in partnership with Red Bank Parks and Recreation department, the lodge hosts a dance for special needs children in the community. And the next dance will be held on Wednesday April 20th at 6pm, at the Red Bank Elks Lodge, 40 West Front Street.

And some other upcoming events are a Wine Tasting and Gift Auction fundraiser on April 17th from 3-6pm and a Mother’s Day Breakfast on Sunday May 8th from 9am-12pm, proceeds benefitting the Special Needs Children.

For more information about the Red Bank Elks Lodge and their many charitable and benevolent activities, please contact Melissa Zimmerman, Public Relations Chairperson at [email protected] or 908-420-4979. 

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Allan Dean

Allan Dean is editor, publisher, and founder of the Atlantic Highlands Herald. Published since 1999 and selected in 2000 by the Borough of Atlantic Highlands as one of their official newspapers, making...