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Locals attend La Marche Nationale in Houston

HOUSTON -- Lila Speckels and Christy Hickey of Chamberlain, Jacquelyn Owens of Iroquois, Phyllis Fuller of Ramona, Charlotte Heidelberger of Hurley, Roberta Olsen of Mount Vernon, Julie Degen of Mitchell, Pat Huls of Madison, Sereta Douthit of Hot Springs, Irene C. Sears and Doris Ann Werlinger of Rapid City were among the nearly 300 delegates, alternates and distinguished guests from across the country attending the 92nd annual La Marche Nationale Aug. 28-31 at the Hilton Americas Houston, Houston.

Headlining La Marche was an address and award ceremony by Dennis Boland, ALCWF president and children and youth chairman. Boland praised the partners of the Eight and Forty for the hours of work they put in working for America's children and for their generous donations to The American Legion Child Welfare Foundation. He noted, "The partners of the Eight and Forty may not be the biggest organization, but they have the biggest hearts for the children of this great nation."

He added, "Your monetary donations are a gift of life for many children. You continue to give more per capita than the other members of the Legion family." South Dakota received the coveted awards for excellence and achievement for its work for the ALCWF. Speckels received the Child Welfare Guardian of Children coin for outstanding service to the ALCWF.

During La Marche Nationale, attendees received the presentation of reports and awards from chairmen of the special committees. A nationale certificate of recognition for L'Archiviste Donna Stewart was presented. South Dakota was also recognized and received awards for 100 percent reporting, for increasing its donations to the nursing scholarship, partnership, leadership and flag education during the Northwestern Division caucus. Speckels accepted the "Mother Load" crystal award in partnership for recruiting new partners, allowing the Departemental to reach 102.6 percent of goal.

Speckels, Degen, Hickey, Douthit, Sears, Werlinger and Olsen, partners in Davison Salon No. 80; and Owens, Huls, Heidelberger and Fuller, partners in Lake No. 15; took part in a variety of activities throughout the week, including Pre-Marche meetings, divisional caucuses and the nomination of nationale officers, Post Marche Pouvoir and recognition of the achievements from the 2012-2013 program year of the organization.

Speckels, of Departemental de South Dakota, was elected the 2013-2014 Le Chapeau Nationale of the organization at the conclusion of the 92nd La Marche. Her theme, "Time For A Cure," will be used throughout the year promoting national programs for children and communities.

During 2012-2013 Le Chapeau National Maria Crothers administration, the La Boutique Nationale awarded $50,000 to 10 Nurse's Scholarship recipients, $20,959.51 to The American Legion Child Welfare Foundation and more than $30,000 to National Jewish Health. The local salons also pursued projects that raised $40,000 to aid 14,025 of our special children with respiratory diseases. Partners are community-minded and donated $32,200 for the research of cystic fibrosis, tuberculosis, asthma and other respiratory diseases in children. Since 1957, the Eight and Forty has awarded more than $2 million in educational assistance to nurses who further their education in pediatric respiratory care.

The Eight and Forty has been given the task of assisting in the prevention and control of all respiratory diseases in children, providing scholarships for nurses continuing their education in this field, supporting National Jewish Health's pediatric needs and the Morgridge Academy for Chronically Ill Children. Local salons are encouraged to adopt children with respiratory illnesses, assist with asthma camps and local hospitals and clinics that treat these children.

The organization sponsors volunteer programs on the nationale, departemental and local levels, focusing on children and the community.