In the fall of 2008, The Parrot Heads of Central Florida (PHCF) decided to create a regional event where their members could invite friends, families, and other Parrot Head clubs from all over the country to join them for a weekend of music, fun, friends, fundraising, and even some bowling! They joined forces with the Arthritis Foundation on behalf of Kids with Arthritis to create Fruitcakes in the Alley, a 3-day signature event featuring a bowling tournament and included outstanding musical entertainment, prizes, silent auctions, raffles, great food, and more. The inaugural event was held in January, 2009 and was an immediate success by raising over $10,000! It was so much fun the Club decided to make it an annual event. In 2017, we raised $53,000, and our ten-year total is over $300,000! The final annual event was held on January 27-29, 2017.
PHCF is a not-for-profit social organization with deep ties to the needs of the Central Florida community. Their main interest is giving back and, of course, having a good time doing it! Members include singles, couples, and families of all ages and backgrounds interested in “leaving this world a little better than we found it.” Since its inception in 1992, PHCF has been involved in countless hours of volunteer work and donated many thousands of dollars and goods to a variety of beneficiaries. Their motto, “Party with a Purpose” ensures that sure no social event is held without a deserving beneficiary, and likewise, no good deed goes without a party immediately following!
How did we choose the Arthritis Foundation on behalf of kids with arthritis as the benefactor?
The Arthritis Foundation is an incredibly worthy cause since 46 million people, including 300,000 children, in America suffer from arthritis and related joint diseases. Nearly 1 in 3 Central Floridians of all ages are affected by the disease.
As our volunteer Club committee came together, we quickly discovered that the family of our Chair Parrots had been significantly impacted by juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. To read their story, click here. Additionally, many of our committee members and their family members are currently living with various forms of arthritis. Nearly everyone is affected by arthritis in one way or another. We chose to specifically support programs for Kids with Arthritis because many people are unaware that kids get this disease.
Juvenile Arthritis affects an estimated 300,000 children in the United States alone. Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA) is the most common type of arthritis in children and is usually diagnosed between the ages of two and sixteen. The disease often affects joints but can also involve other organs as well as weakening a child’s immune defense system. It is an incurable autoimmune disease that can have a devastating, life long impact on children. In some cases it can be life threatening. The causative agent of JRA is still unknown but research is ongoing to find the cause and to develop medications to treat, and hopefully prevent, this devastating disease.
From the Arthritis Foundation Florida Chapter, eighty three percent of all funds raised stays in the community where it is raised. In Central Florida, these proceeds are earmarked for Children’s Miracle Camp, where children living with juvenile arthritis attend a four day camp designed especially for them at Camp Boggy Creek. The funds are also used to sponsor aquatic, exercise, and self help programs designed for the one in three people who have arthritis in our area, in addition to offering public education and assistance.