In 1948, Denver postman Joseph V. Calabrese could not find a school that would teach his developmentally disabled children. Joe exclaimed, "By golly, if there’s no place for my kids, I’ll start a school of my own for them and other youngsters like them." For two years, Mr. and Mrs. Calabrese carried most of the financial load, using their $10,000 life savings to convert a house into Colorado’s only school for developmentally disabled children.
In 1950, the Colorado Elks Association voted to adopt Laradon as its State Major Project. The Elks purchased the abandoned Globeville neighborhood school from the City and County of Denver for $25,000. The Elks’ generosity turned the Calabreses’ dream, to open a special education and training center for children with developmental disabilities, into a reality. Laradon was the first private, non-profit organization in the Rocky Mountain Region to provide intellectually and developmentally disabled children individualized services and programming.
As Laradon has grown in the number of clients and services offered, the Colorado Elks have never left Laradon’s side. Since 1950, Elks financial support has been significant. Over the past 25 years, contributions that have been made directly through various Elks organizations totals nearly $4 million.

Funding comes from a number of sources including benefit dinners at lodges, special fundraising events, personal donations by Elks Lodge members, bequests from the estates of recently-passed Elks members, large charitable grants from the Colorado and National Elks associations, and in-kind donations of craft supplies for the adult programs and paper goods for our school lunch program.

Visit for more information and to make a donation.

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Additional Resources:

If We Knew Then podcast

Garden of Hope by George V. Kelly

Clem & Evelyn Audin Fund

The Clem & Evelyn Audin Fund was established by Evelyn Audin in 1975 be used exclusively for the charitable purpose of serving young people in their education, health, development, and care. 
It is applicable to children in the State of Colorado under the age of 19, with certain restrictions - up to $500 per year for any clothing, school supplies, registration fees etc., and up to $700 per year in a verified medical situation.
Please contact your local Colorado Lodge if you know a child or family in need, or would like to make a donation. You can download the PDF-fillable application here: Clem & Evelyn Audin Application
Local lodges can download the tri-fold informational brochure here: Clem & Evelyn Audin Brochure

Youth Camp

The CEA Youth Camp is a co-ed camp for the youth of Colorado, ages nine (9) through nineteen (19). Anyone knowing any child who otherwise would not have such an opportunity is urged to contact their nearest Colorado Elks Lodge for information. The CEA will pay all necessary camp expenses, provide all activities, meals and snacks for campers. Members of your local Elks Lodges will arrange transportation to and from the camp.
To register to attend camp, download the application here.
To apply to volunteer at camp, download the application here.
Please send your applications to the Littleton Elks Lodge.