Speech and Hearing Center, Scottish Rite Masons to hold 20th fundraising dinner

Marshall University’s Speech and Hearing Center and the Huntington Scottish Rite Foundation will hold their 20th Rite Care, Scottish Rite fundraising dinner Saturday April 16, at 6 p.m. in the Don Morris Room in Marshall’s Memorial Student Center.

Since 2002, the Scottish Rite program has provided comprehensive services to children with communication disorders, through the Marshall University Speech and Hearing Center. The Rite Care Childhood Language Program (SRCLP), provides these services without regard to the families’ ability to pay for the necessary services they receive.

In 2012, the program at Marshall University changed its name to the Lackey-Oshel Rite Care Clinic to honor the program founders, James H. Lackey and H. Pat Oshel.  It provides communication services in a supportive, compassionate atmosphere. The mission, to provide financial assistance for speech, language, and hearing service provision for children.

This year, the spotlight falls on Deryck Almeida, Nicholas Hovanec, and Colin and Elizabeth Moriarty. Four-year-old Deryck Almedia began receiving speech therapy at the Marshall University Speech and Hearing Center in 2020. He had a speech delay for being a bilingual speaker (English and Portuguese). However, after starting the clinic, his parents realized a great improvement in his speech and his behavior. Deryck’s father, Rodrigo, says the therapy he’s received at the speech and hearing center have been essential.

“We are so thankful for the efforts, patience, love and care toward Deryck’s improvement,” Rodrigo said. “He demonstrates his appreciation to all involved in this program, with his excitement every time we say that we are going to speech therapy. Their method, to teach in a fun way, makes all the difference.”

Nicholas Hovanec, a 12-year-old boy, was born with Down Syndrome. He had developmental delays right from the start and began therapy in the West Virginia Birth-To-Three program, and has had regular speech therapy, physical therapy and occupational therapy since. He was also diagnosed with autism at two years old, when all speech and sounds just stopped. After exhausting many options for help, a chance meeting with the parents of another autistic child led the Hovanecs to the center for help obtaining an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device. Through the Scottish Rite Foundation and the Rite Care Clinic, the family was able to obtain the AAC device that makes all the difference in Nicholas’ ability to communicate.

Colin Moriarty is eight years old, and his sister, Elizabeth, is six years old. Colin has been receiving help from the Marshall University Speech and Hearing Center since 2017, when he was three, for apraxia of speech. Elizabeth also has attended the speech and hearing center for feeding therapy. According to the Moriarty family, both are progressing wonderfully.

All proceeds from the dinner will directly benefit the Scottish Rite Child Speech-Language Program through the University Speech and Hearing Center, which also serves as a training site for students in the Department of Communication Disorders at Marshall. For more information on the dinner or the program, call Pam Holland, chair of the Department of Communication Disorders, at 304-696-2985.

Holland said the foundation would like to thank the following corporate sponsors who have supported the program for several years:  Advantage Toyota; Dutch Miller; TTA; Mountain Health; American Electric Power; McDonalds; Doug Reynolds; C2G Engineering; Dan Linville; Duffield, Lovejoy and Boggs; Todd Dudley with Raymond James; Marshall’s College of Health Professions; and Case Trucking.

Individuals interested in supporting this program can send donations to the Huntington Scottish Rite Foundation Inc. at PO Box 294, Huntington, WV 25707.  Contributions are tax deductible (501(c) (3)-55-0784606) and will be used to make a positive impact on the youth in the Tri-State area. In addition to the proceeds raised through the dinner, and in celebration of the 20th anniversary, Holland said the program is seeking 200 individuals to donate $100.00 to raise an additional $20,000.