Elks Lodge donation provides mobility to local residents

HARLINGEN — Lupita Cordoba is looking forward to being able to attend classes with greater independence.

The 12-year-old, who now has a gait trainer, was one of four recipients of special needs equipment Friday night at Elks Lodge 1889.

“I’m excited because I’m going to be able to walk,” said Lupita, who has cerebral palsy. She attends a local public school.

She received the gait trainer as part of the Texas Elks Grants for Special Needs Children, said Victoria Cerda, exalted ruler of Elks Lodge 1889.

“What we do is raise money,” Cerda said. “Most of the time we try to help out those in our community.”

Each recipient had to fill out an application and meet certain criteria.

Jennifer De Leon is looking forward to getting around campus a little better.

“I’m very excited because I get to go out and do a lot of stuff,” said De Leon, who suffers from scleroderma and pulmonary hypertension. She is a 20-year-old pre-med student from Edinburg.

That’s what it’s all about, said Efrain Guerrero, of National Seating and Ability, which purchased the equipment with donated funds.

“We deal with high end rehab equipment,” Guerrero said. “We’re a provider. We change lives and give people movement and freedom and independence.”

He’d certainly given that to Jennifer, who is attending classes at South Texas College in McAllen.

“She’s in college and they do not have a big van,” Guerrero said. “The power chair is a folding power chair. Most weigh 320 pounds and above. Most people do not have a van lift to carry those big heavy power chairs. This one is 49 pounds I believe.”

Some kids weren’t sure what to make of the new equipment. Leonardo Soto Lara, 4, cried as Guerrero buckled him into his new stander. But he would soon find it useful. Just ask his father, Leonardo Soto Sr.

“He’s blind and he can’t walk,” said Leonardo Sr.

“I’m very grateful for the stander,” he continued. “He will be able to walk and just be by himself.”

Edmundo Pena, 11, of Harlingen is just tired of falling down all the time. That’s why he appreciates the new reverse walker.

“I know I need it so I’m glad that I got this finally,” said Edmundo, who has cerebral palsy.

His mother Judy Gomez was equally grateful.

“He has one for school but not for home,” she said. “So it’s very hard for us to go out because he falls.”

He won’t be falling quite so much anymore, thanks to the new equipment.


Recipients of mobility equipment

Lupita Cordova, 12, a gait trainer: Cost: $3,455.91

Jennifer De Leon, 20, a power chair: Cost: $3,836.57

Leonardo Soto Lara, 4, a stander: Cost: $3,791.23

Edmundo Pena, 11, a reverse walker: Cost: $1,169.72

Equipment was paid for by the following

Harlingen Elks Lodge #1889: 11,053.43

San Benito Elks Lodge: $900

Weslaco Elks Lodge: $300

Total: $12,253.43.