Since its founding in 1967, the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation (CCFA) has sought the cure for Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. The National Institutes of Health commended the CCFA for its work "uniting the research community and strengthening IBD research." The CCFA established the precedent for research in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) by forming its own scientific journal and educational symposiums and funding cutting-edge studies at major medical institutions. It has helped discover chromosomal regions with IBD-related genes and NOD2, the first gene for Crohn’s disease.
In addition to medical research, the CCFA runs a wide range of educational programs and support services to improve the quality of life for people affected by IBD. With awareness campaigns, webcasts, and periodicals, such as Take Charge and Under the Microscope, the organization reaches out to more than one million patients and caregivers. Nationwide chapters further this work by conducting more than 300 support groups for patients and summer camps for children every year.
SOS Children's Villages - Florida nurtures youth in foster care through a neighborhood built exclusively for them. The street's 12 houses buzz with the activity of the 75 resident boys and girls, who were removed from their homes due to abandonment, abuse, and neglect. They spend their childhood with foster families selected by a caseworker and have access to an array of social and mental-health services. Most children stay at the Village for about two years until they are found a permanent adoptive home or reunited with their biological families. The Village places a high priority on maintaining family connections among siblings, generally placing them in the same house.
SOS Children’s Villages sustains a connection with all its youth after they turn 18 through the After Care program, which helps them transition into adulthood and self-sufficiency. SOS boasts incredible success with this program: 83% of its alumni have graduated high school—33% higher than the national average for foster children—and 47% have gone on to pursue higher education.
With its award-winning book, My Body Is Special and Belongs to Me!, KidSafe Foundation uses easy-to-understand material to cultivate a discussion about sexual abuse and personal safety between adults and children. The book is designed as a resource for school guidance counselors and is worded to help students of any age understand the sensitive concepts. Topics include the distinction between appropriate and inappropriate touching, what to do when presented with a hazardous situation, and how to ask for help. A special section dedicated to caregivers and faculty helps broaden adults' knowledge of identifying and discussing abuse. The program has reached 20,000 children and more than 5,000 adults through its Southern Florida initiatives, and aims to expand distribution to more elementary schools within the Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Palm Beach areas.
Spearheaded by "The Gridiron Griller" himself, former Miami Dolphins player John Offerdahl, the Gridiron Grill-Off congregates chefs from the top restaurants in Fort Lauderdale, and culinary-inclined celebrities as they prepare grilled grub for a tasting competition benefiting several local charities. Twenty teams comprised of Miami Dolphins legends including Dan Marino, and top Broward County food maestros concoct 20 delectable dishes that fans can sample, pair with wine or beer, vote on, and assemble into an indoor snowman. While nibbling on grilled bites, visitors also compete in a beanbag tailgate tournament with celebs and chefs joining top-ranked teams in the final rounds. Proceeds from the Gridiron Grill-Off support 4Kids of South Florida, Here's Help Culinary Program, and the Miami Dolphins Foundation.
Two floors of interactive exhibits help the Schoolhouse Children's Museum & Learning Center teach its pintsized patrons about the history of the South Florida region. Kids can take turns milking a cow replica at the Dairy Days exhibit, or activate sneezes with a trip to Pepper Patch Farm, where they can role-play to learn about the pepper-production process. A 15-foot model of the Jupiter Lighthouse sports an animatronic clone of pioneer Hannibal Pierce that talks to visiting children during museum hours and sings baritone in the after-hours choir.
A group of volunteers founded Coastal Boxer Rescue of Florida in 2005 to rescue abandoned, abused, and neglected boxers. The organization takes in dogs from owners who can no longer care for them, as well as from high-kill shelters that would otherwise euthanize the animals due to lack of space. With no physical office, volunteers coordinate with vets and foster families to provide dogs with medical treatments, food, and loving care until they can find their forever home. Coastal Boxer Rescue cares for more than 100 boxers annually, with the number rising each year.
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