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O'Kelley Story

O'Kelley Story

James W. O'Kelley III
Chicago Northshore, Ill., Lodge No. 1316

Before Kevin, I could count the number of times I thought about preparing a will on one hand. Perhaps even one finger. But when my son arrived, four weeks early and clamoring for attention, he changed my life in many ways. The biggest, of course, were the twin losses of sleep and freedom, but he also changed the way I viewed the future.

We tend to think we are immortal, people my age. Maybe we'll plan for retirement, but most of us don't look past that. Kevin, however, forced his mom and me to consider our mortality and, specifically, the unpleasant possibility that we could die suddenly, leaving Kevin an orphan.

Drafting wills allowed us to name guardians for Kevin. To be safe (okay, paranoid), we named backup guardians and even third-string guardians.

Once I resolved to draft a will, including a provision for the Elks National Foundation was an easy decision.

Frankly, I am uncomfortable asking our donors to do anything that I am unwilling to do myself. We had just started our John F. Malley Society honoring people who plan gifts to the Foundation, and I found myself talking and writing frequently about it. To be convincing, I felt I needed to be a member.

However, even if we didn't have this new society, I still would have included the Foundation in my will. As director, I see every day the good work we do. In addition, I know my gift will be invested in a permanent trust fund and that it will never stop working for the benefit of kids and veterans. That's important to me.

I'm proud of the Elks National Foundation, I'm proud of the work we do, and I'm proud to be a charter member of the John F. Malley Society.

I'm also proud of my son, and knowing who will take care of him if something unexpectedly happens to his mom and me gives me peace of mind.

-Jim O'Kelley

ENF Donor Bill of Rights