Only a few centuries ago, it was considered “odd” if you were kind and generous to those who were less fortunate. That’s how the Odd Fellows got started: compassionate individuals representing all kinds of trades and walks of life, getting together to help each other out in hard times before other assistance was available.
Since then, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) has evolved to focus on supporting a wide range of community needs. Today, their charitable commitment spans everything from addressing urgent health issues like arthritis to causes as diverse as firefighting, orphanages and the Special Olympics.
Odd Fellows embraced the arthritis cause in 1982, seeing how debilitating this disease is to more and more people year after year. Today, at least 54 million Americans suffer from arthritis, including 300,000 children and their families. Over the years, IOOF in North America has donated $14.3 million to the Arthritis Foundation to advance our work for better treatments and a cure.
Douglas Pittman, who heads IOOF globally as the organization’s sovereign grand master, says supporting the Arthritis Foundation makes a lot of sense. “So many people of all ages benefit from the Foundation’s programs and services,” he points out, “and Odd Fellows is proud to help make it all possible.”
Doug gives much credit to Clarence Plant, longtime chair of the IOOF’s arthritis committee. “Clarence is so energetic and gives everything he’s got, and more, to the arthritis cause,” says Doug. “He’s a bright light out there who works hard to elevate this important issue.”
On April 26, 2019, IOOF celebrates their 200th anniversary – founded on that date in 1819 in Baltimore. Doug says his organization, which has affiliates in 26 countries, is “one of the best-kept secrets in community service.”
“We want more people to know about us and the good things we do,” he says. “And contributing to arthritis treatments and a cure is among our top priorities.”
This spring, Doug is encouraging Odd Fellows to support the Arthritis Foundation’s major flagship fundraising event, the Live Yes! Walk to Cure Arthritis. “Most of us will suffer from some form of arthritis in our lifetime or know somebody who will,” he concludes. “Arthritis does so much damage, so we’ve got to keep working on alleviating it and find a cure. Walk to Cure Arthritis makes a big difference.”
Odd Fellows has formed a National Walk to Cure Arthritis Team. Join them in their support of the Arthritis Foundation through this largest arthritis gathering in the world. Much more than just a walk, it’s an event that’s all about joining together and living life to the fullest. Connect with others in your community while raising money to cure arthritis. Learn more at WalkToCureArthritis.org.
Thank you, Odd Fellows – and your sister group, Rebekahs – for helping us help people with arthritis say Yes to a better life!