Moosomin Elks donate to Visperas family

June 1, 2022, 2:28 pm
Sierra D'Souza Butts, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Moosomin Elks donate $4,000 to the Visperas family to help cover their travel expenses going to Regina, as they go see a doctor in help treat their sons medical condition of microtia. Left: Ron Potter of  Moosomin Elks, Danica and Armisto Jr. Visperas, their son  Armisto III, Primrose and (right) Mel Durant of Moosomin Elks.

Moosomin Elks donated $4,000 to the Visperas family of Moosomin to help with travel expenses for their’s sons medical appointments.

Armisto Jr. and Danica Visperas’ son, Armisto III was born with microtia, a birth defect of a baby’s ear.

The family has travelled to Regina six times for appointments in the last five months for Armisto III.

“Our national charity helps cover the procedures up to a certain point, some travel time, some meals,” said Ron Potter of Moosomin Elks.

“This donation is basically what we live for, is helping children with hearing conditions, and May is speech and hearing month.”

Potter said the group is happy to be able to help another local family in town.

“This is what I get out of this, being able to do something and see it progress, especially in your own town. I’ve seen it across Canada, I’m very lucky to have had those opportunities, but when you can do it in your own community and do this, it makes it all worthwhile,” he said.

The Moosomin Elks came into contact with the Visperas family through a referral from the hospital in Regina.

“They were in Regina doing all of their doctor appointments there, and there was a lady who contacted a friend that I know, and once I spoke to him, we said we would look after their case,” Potter said.

“Within an hour I contacted the lady and asked her for the family’s contact information, I said let’s get on it right away.

“What’s funny too is that this family lives right across from our hall (in Moosomin), and they didn’t know we did this.”

He said the Elks’ national charity—Elks of Canada Fund for Children—helps with general youth medical travel expenses, but have primarily focused on helping families with speech and hearing needs.

“Our Fund for Children used to be about anything medical, it still sort of is, but our focus is speech and hearing because nobody looks after it,” he said.

Through previous years of fundraising for Saskatchewan Pediatric Auditory Rehabilitation Center (SPARC) in Saskatoon, Potter said the group has been able to contribute to the centre.

“Our funding to that centre has diminished a little bit, we used to put millions of dollars into it, but it’s been cut back a lot because we haven’t been able to raise funds, we don’t have the capacity to do it anymore,” Potter said.

He said communities should continue to support fundraising events held by any charities.

“I’ve made that plea before that if there’s any charity that is selling tickets, buy one, because you don’t realize that at the end of the year, you look at all the rinks, the swimming pools, the golf courses, minor hockey, minor baseball, none of that would survive without charitable organizations,” Potter said.

“I could sell you a ticket for $20, but if a mayor told you your taxes were going up $20 you’d go crazy. People don’t understand that this is what we’re here for, to try and minimize their costs. By us selling you a $20 ticket, we’ll take that $20 and put it into a big fund where we can help kids and families like this.”

Over the last couple of years, Moosomin Elks have been able to donate to four local families.

“Generally, most of the medical expenses are covered by our provincial government plans and so, it’s all the other expenses that are terribly expensive,” said Mel Durant of Moosomin Elks.

Durant said the money raised by the group focuses on helping families pay for travel expenses, as multiple consultations and appointments are required for children with medical conditions.

“The last family I helped, they had to travel to Edmonton at least three or four different times, you’re looking $1,000 a trip, at least,” Durant said.

“By the time you drive there and the expenses for staying overnight, those are the things that are not covered at all by any of the provincial programs. Those are the things that cost more money than what the actual procedures cost.”

Potter said the group’s main goal is to help fundraise for children and their families.

“We’ll do everything in our power because this is what we live for, is for speech and hearing,” he said.

“We want to make sure that every child has the opportunity as the next one, and hopefully cochlear implant surgery, by the time he’s of age, might be beyond that. We certainly are here for whatvever you need and we’ll help every bit.”

The elks said they wish to continue helping the Visperas’ in the future, even after Armisto III surgery.

“The important thing to me is that we don’t want you to forget that this is not the end, when things progress down the road even in two, or five years from now, keep in contact with us,” said Durant.

“We can continue to support your family and help with his condition.”

Visperas’ family grateful for donation
Danica said in the nearby future Armisto III will have to get surgery for his ear.

“Eventually he will end up having multiple surgeries, but the surgery might take place in Edmonton or Toronto,” she said.

“The surgeon that we’re seeing right now in Regina, said he has not done a surgery like that in many years and is not a specialist for Armisto III’s condition.

“A doctor who does specialize in that field would be in either Edmonton or Toronto.”

She said she was happy to hear from the Moosomin Elks about wanting to help their family out.

“It was a relief hearing from them because when I read online that the best microtia specialists for his conditions were not in Canada but actually America, I was really stressed because I knew I had to start budgeting immediately to go and see a doctor there,” she said.

“The doctor in Regina referred us to a doctor in Edmonton, so I was preparing a budget for the time we were expecting to travel to Edmonton.

“I reached out to the Elks after hearing about the organization, and they were pretty fast about helping us, they didn’t think twice. Ron was the one who said they could help us.

“It had really taken the load off our backs and allowed us to focus on our well being. We found our selves to be lucky, my husband was working lots of jobs because we have kids, we have bills to pay and now with our son’s condition, we were asking ourselves if we were ready for this.

“No one is ready, but as parents we just have to be ready so that our son’s well being is looked after. Then again with the Elks, we’re very fortunate to have their help.”

Danica said their family is still learning about microtia and did not hear about the condition until Armisto III was born five months ago.

“We didn’t know what microtia was until we had him, we got lots of referrals to see different specialists,” Danica said.

“I’ve been researching and reading tons online about what microtia is because at first I thought it was my fault his ear was like that, but then upon research they said it wasn’t, I was really relieved on my part.”

She said she found a Facebook page of parents who are going through similar experiences.

“I was searching for a group online where I could learn more about my son’s condition, and fortunately there was one,” Danica said.

“They are a group of people from different parts of the world, and when I posted in the group there was a mom who was from Montreal. She told me that what I’m experiencing right now, is what she was going through before.”

Danica said at first she was hesitant to share her family’s story, but she thought talking about it would help bring more awareness about the condition of microtia.