Even at 11 years old, Gracie Killough (pronounced kee-low) recognizes the immense value of her past year of dyslexia therapy at Regional Rehabilitation Center: “I couldn’t read,” Gracie said Tuesday during her session with therapist Allyson Malone, who she meets with twice a week. As Malone held up flash cards – called graphemes – with single letters or combinations of letters, Gracie called out the letter sounds or how they are used in words. A year ago, she couldn’t do that. Gracie said she could recognize the letters but reading the words formed by them was a feat she just couldn’t seem to accomplish. Today, though, she can. “I can read books, now,” said Gracie, a home-schooled sixth grader from Shannon, with a big smile. Her favorites are the Magic Treehouse series, a popular series of children’s books written by author Mary Pope Osborne. So goes a typical day at Regional Rehab, where clients are helped within several therapy disciplines: physical therapy, occupational therapy, dyslexia therapy and testing, early intervention (for developmental delays or disabilities) and speech therapy. And it’s all provided at no cost to either the client, insurance companies, Medicare or Medicaid. How that is possible is explained by the generosity of donors in the 18 Mississippi counties and three Alabama counties RRC serves. Robby Parman, RRC executive director, said the center’s annual budget of more than $1 million is filled through several events and contributions. Governmental bodies contributing to the effort include the city of Tupelo and boards of supervisors in Lee and surrounding counties. United Way, Toyota, Rotary Club, Kiwanis, Elvis Presley Fan Club and Blue Suede Cruise are contributors. Private donations are also a source of funds as are various fundraisers held throughout the year. The most recent fundraiser was the Celebration of Hope telethon held Sunday, 1-3 p.m., live from the WTVA television studio. According to Parman, it was a huge success that added to the center’s total donations of $402,000 for the year. The television station aired daily family RRC stories the week before the telethon, which Parman said raised awareness of the need for funding and the coming event, as well as how RRC programs have helped the center’s clients, 80 percent of whom are children. Other annual fundraisers include the Butler and the Road to Hope golf tournaments held in June and September, respectively, the Red Rasberry Humanitarian Award Dinner in April, the Kentucky Derby Party in May, the Pedaling for Hope Bike Ride in June and the Paul Thorn Concert. “We are a stand-alone nonprofit,” Parman said. He added that the center also receives grants from Monroe County and the state of Mississippi. As an outpatient service, Parman explained that the goal is for clients – 1,485 last year – to eventually reach a point where they no longer require therapy. “Some are with us six months and some six years. You don’t ever know (how long they will need our services).” Gracie Killough is learning to cope with dyslexia and will eventually be able to read as well as she needs to succeed at her future. That future, she said, will likely be interior design, which is her primary interest at this point; she said her mother’s design tastes runs the gamut from “rustic” to “contemporary,” a range Gracie apparently hasn’t come to grips with. “They have been very helpful and have given advice to me as a mom,” Gracie’s mother, Kim Killough, said of RRC’s services. She has another, younger daughter who receives speech therapy at the center. “She would go more often if she could – she loves her therapist.”
For more information about the center’s services or to provide a donation, call them at 842-1891 or check out their website at www.regionalrehabcenter.com.
C. Richard Cotton
243 County Road 783
Saltillo MS 38866