What started 25 years ago as one doctor’s mission to help combat preventable brain damage in Amish and Mennonite children being caused by one specific disease, has grown to a modern clinic for special needs children.
While the Clinic for Special Children is physically located in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, it has touched several families in Scotland County. Currently six Scotland County families have children being served by the clinic.
On Friday, August 15th, the local community will be joining forces to support the facility with a special benefit dinner and auction. Barbecue chicken, French fries and soft service ice cream will headline the menu for the free-will offering meal set to start serving at 4 p.m. at Ed’s Machinery, west of Memphis on Highway 136. A benefit auction will follow, starting at 6:30 p.m.
Donations for the auction to help support the program may be dropped off at Ed’s the week of August 11-15. For more information, contact Bryan Burkholder (660.342.2733), Harlan Burkholder (660.341.4113), or Ed Lynn Good (660.341.3040).
Proceeds from the meal and auction will benefit local special needs children and the Clinic for Special Children.
“Special children are not just interesting medical problems, subjects of grants and research,” said clinic co-founder Dr. Holmes Morton. “Nor should they be called burdens to their families and communities. They are children who need our help, and if we allow them to, they will teach us compassion. They are children who need our help, and if we allow them to, they will teach us love. If we come to know these children as we should, they will make us better scientists, better physicians, and thoughtful people.”
Dr. Morton established the clinic in the late 1980s after recognizing that Gluataric Acidura (GA1) was a common cause of cerebral palsy among Amish and Mennonite children. His efforts led to the creation of the clinic to help establish screenings for the disease, which if treated could prevent the complications that led to the brain damage.
The clinic officially opened in January of 1990 with a patient load of approximately 100 children, a staff of three and a budget of just over $500,000..
In 2014 the clinic provided medical treatment for 1,008 active patients, with a total patient load nearly three times that figure, helping treat more than 150 different genetic conditions. The staff of 15 helped diagnose 148 genetic mutations through the clinic’s molecular research, bringing the total to 65 genetic mutations that have originally been identified by the clinic. That started with the GA1 diagnosis, which has led to nationwide screening of all infants for the disease.
The clinic is funded in large part by charitable gifts. Benefits like the one in Scotland County, help to account for nearly 1/3 of the clinics revenues, which are only 22% funded by fees for services. Major charitable donations account for 34% of the annual budget and also fund the Research 7 Education Endowment Fund to support the clinic’s outreach and research.
“Our approach to the care of patients with genetic disorders has wide medical relevance,” said Dr. Morton. “Although we find ‘new’ genetic disorders in the Amish and Mennonite populations, these disorders are not unique to the Plain populations. They are typical of genetic problems found throughout the world, problems which our clinical and laboratory experiences help solve.”