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Showing posts from October, 2015

The Nitty-Gritty on 
All in the Elks Family

by Jim O'Kelley, Director
Elks National Foundation
At the outset of this series, I mentioned that we didn't have time to talk with all 72 families during the busy finals weekend. Instead, we chose families that either had an interesting angle, such as the Holcers or the Abramses, or could provide insight on one of the volunteers we were following for the feature film. The latter was the case with McKinley Fitzgerald and her mom, Jennifer. McKinley provided us with a good sound bite about Lynn Rutherford-Snow, Virginia's state director, that we used in the film. McKinley (center) takes aim during the party at the Hall of Fame. But we repurposed their interviews for the #TrueGritTuesdays series, because they both spoke to the role we as Elks play in developing grit (beyond the obvious contribution of the Hoop Shoot as a means). Grit is the courage and resolve to keep going in the face of hardship. You can't force that. You can't force people to be tenacious. Yo…

The Nitty-Gritty on 
A Real Cool Hand

by Jim O'Kelley, Director
Elks National Foundation
Count me among those who have never seen Cool Hand Luke. It's true. But as I watched the footage from my interviews with Luke and Marvin Mathis, that's what was rattling around in my head. Why? Well, two reasons. First, let's be honest--hear the name Luke and you're going to think of either Paul Newman or Luke Skywalker. Since I'm not a nerd, I was thinking of Paul Newman. (I wrote that with a straight face, hoping you've forgotten the Lord of the Rings reference I dropped in "The Nitty-Gritty on Father of the Man.") Second, of all the kids I interviewed at the Hoop Shoot Finals last April, Luke was the most comfortable on camera. He was cool. California cool. Luke works out with his dad at the Springfield Boys and Girls Club. During Hoop Shoot season, Luke shot 450 free throws per day. So, once I arranged the footage, I Googled Cool Hand Luke quotes to find something appropriate for the titl…

Alum of the Year Adventures

by Jimmy Tomczak
2011 Elks Scholar Alum of the Year
Hi, my name’s Jimmy Tomczak. I was honored as a 2011 Elks Scholar Alum of the Year. I spoke in Phoenix at the Elks National Convention. I served on the Elks Scholar Advisory Board, I helped at the National Hoop Shoot Finals, and I became even more involved in my local community and with Elks scholars at the University of Michigan, my alma matter, where I completed my Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience plus the College of Engineering’s Program in Entrepreneurship. But not everything’s a success story. Andy Warhol once said you have to be willing to get excited about nothing. I was trying to get excited about everything. I didn’t realize that with all the highs of life that I was experiencing while living and building a company—I somehow thought I could escape the equally low lows. After starting with nothing and taking my first company from a crazy idea, all the way to being selected to appear and taped for an episode of Shark Tan…

An NU Adventure

By 2015 Most Valuable Student Scholarship Recipient and Elks Scholar Advisory Board Member Jessica Carter
Jessica Carter, 2015 Most Valuable Student scholar and freshmen representative on the Elks Scholar Advisory Board, is giving us a glimpse into life as a college freshman. Join her each month as she blogs about her exciting new challenges and experiences at Northwestern University. 
After five long months of waiting, I’m finally at Northwestern! From orientation and starting classes to hosting an Elks Scholar Meet-Up, it has been a crazy and exciting past few weeks and I can’t wait to tell you all about it. Northwestern is very different from most schools. To start, our orientation is 10 days long. This year, the university rented out Six Flags Amusement Park, the Chicago Field Museum, and even a Target just for the freshman class. There was no shortage of excitement! It’s a week centered around building friendships and getting familiar with campus so by the time classes actually …

The Nitty-Gritty on 
Preparation Meets Opportunity

by Jim O'Kelley, Director
Elks National Foundation
Of the six films in the #TrueGritTuesdays series, Preparation Meets Opportunity is the most lighthearted. That's by design. In this film, we circle back to a point first made in Ice Cream and the Rocky Road Back, which led off the series. With kids, reinforcing the traits that develop grit--goal-setting, practice, hard work, determination--is much easier when they're working hard at something they want to do. And clearly, NiNi Davenport is a girl who's having fun doing what she's doing. You see it in her answers, and you see it in the b-roll. (By the way, I had no idea what b-roll was 18 months ago, but I'm an old hand at filmmaking now. B-roll is the extra footage used for cuts while the interview subjects are talking.) "Each step along the way, we've come away with a new friend," says NiNi's father, Larry. Here, NiNi (left) and eventual champion Zoe Canfield look pretty relaxed at the Bre…

The Nitty-Gritty on 
Father of the Man

by Jim O'Kelley, Director
Elks National Foundation
“The child is father of the man.” I’m not sure where I first saw that written--whether on a t-shirt or a billboard or tagged on a wall--but it was recent and it caught my eye. “The child is father of the man.” Sounds like a riddle, and I love a good one. "I can't carry it for you, but I can carry you," Christopher Abrams might have said to his father had they been in Lord of the Rings instead of the Hoop Shoot Finals. After running across it a few more times, I finally turned to Google. Turns out the line comes from “The Rainbow,” a poem penned by William Wordsworth in 1802. My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety. It means that our experiences as children--the lessons we learn and the habits we form--shap…

The Nitty-Gritty on 
Ice Cream and the Rocky Road Back

by Jim O'Kelley, Director
Elks National Foundation
There simply wasn’t enough time to sit down with every family during the Hoop Shoot finals. We had to pick families who either filled a need--they could provide insight on one of the volunteers we were following in the feature film--or had an angle.
No stranger to the Hoop Shoot, Korrie Holcer knows that luck happens when preparation meets opportunity. Still, a lucky penny can't hurt any.
The Holcers were a natural choice for a sit-down because they had not one but two angles. First, you have Korrie following in big sister Kiera’s footsteps. Korrie was competing in her first finals--in the girls 8- to 9-year-old division--but two years earlier, she was in Springfield as a spectator. And watched Kiera win that same division.
Second, you have the opportunity to check in on the ice cream shop. The film starts with a clip of Kiera speaking to the delegates at the 2013 Elks National Convention in Reno. Kiera didn’t just win a cham…