I got to be a witch last week (whether or not I’m a witch at other times during the year is debatable) as part of the Witches of South Walton 30A bike ride.
Along with more than 100 other women, we cackled, pedaled and laughed our way from Gulf Place to Van R. Butler Elementary School. As with anything the women of Destin and South Walton put their minds too, there were plenty of “Pinterest” worthy witch costumes and the bikes were decorated to the hilt — some even had sound effects.
I know that I need to step up my costume game next year, but I was glad to be part of a great fundraiser for the Children’s Volunteer Heath Network, a local, faith-based organization dedicated to providing uninsured and under insured children with medical, mental health and dental care.
Since 2005 The Children’s Volunteer Health Network has helped thousands of children receive the medical, dental and mental health care they need. According to recent statistics, 25 percent of Walton County and 13 percent of Okaloosa County children are without health insurance, and 60 percent of all Walton County families lack dental insurance.
In response to these public health needs, the Children’s Volunteer Health Network began advocating for children who need medical and dental health procedures and treatment. The organization’s staff and network of both volunteers and providers facilitate the flow of referrals, coordinate treatment plans and work with the area’s medical professionals to design and deliver comprehensive and preventive treatment for the medically under-served.
The “Just For Grins” mobile dental clinic is the organization’s most visible outreach program. The mobile clinic visits Walton County elementary schools and provides preventive dental care, like exams, X-rays, cleanings, fluoride treatments and sealants for first, second and third graders who need dental work. The organization provides these services to any Walton County elementary school child receiving free or reduced lunches.
With the opening of the organizations permanent clinic, CVHN can also focus on restorative and comprehensive dental care for the most severe and serious cases, including expensive orthodontic treatments. Last year, the dental clinics provided more than 575 kids with free, comprehensive dental care. Additionally, the organization works with schools, churches and community organizations to advocate for and facilitate the flow of health care for under and uninsured kids through their physician referral program.
While this year’s Witches Ride is over (but mark your calendar for next year’s event), you can still support the CVHN during Rosemary Beach’s Cottages for Kids. Beginning on Friday, Nov. 9, and running every weekend through the end of November, you can explore, buy or bid on some of the most creative playhouses you’ll ever see.
Local builders have donated their time, talents, and expertise to create miniature luxury homes and cottages, all designed to capture the whimsy and magic of an Emerald Coast childhood. Last year’s cottages included a lifeguard station, an old time school house and a tree house-inspired cottage, among others. These houses are equipped with slides, swings, climbing ropes and plenty of space to play. Exploring the Cottages For Kids exhibit is free, and donations are welcomed. If you’re interested, you can bid on the cottages online, or purchase a raffle ticket for a chance to win one.
So while the Witches of 30A may have the scariest smiles along the Emerald Coast, the ride, as well as the Cottages For Kids auction and raffle, give kids in Okaloosa and Walton County plenty of reasons to smile all year long.
Follow Susan Moody on Twitter @susanjmoody and visit her blog, The Emerald Coast Insider, at www.emeraldcoasttreasurebox.com.