Knights of Columbus comes full circle in its support of children with intellectual disabilities


When John Appelbaum sees a child with a intellectual disability, he knows plenty of ways to help him or her. And there are 42,000 men behind him to make sure it happens.


Appelbaum, along with his brothers in the Missouri State Council of the Knights of Columbus, have committed time, talent and treasure to helping the athletes of Special Olympics Missouri for years through their annual “tootsie-roll drives” and other fundraisers. This year, councils throughout the state raised more than $630,000 specifically for charities related to individuals with intellectual disabilities. A portion of that supports Special Olympics Missouri.


“We want to increase the amount we give to Special Olympics,” says Appelbaum, State Deputy of the Knights of Columbus Missouri State Council. “They’ve been very gracious.”

KofC charitable work in Missouri

The Knights of Columbus is a Catholic fraternal organization with a hefty commitment to charity and service in their communities. Though the Knights’ influence and charitable work reaches throughout every county of Missouri, nowhere is their good work more evident than in the patient rooms of the Knights of Columbus Developmental Center at Cardinal Glennon Children’s’ Medical Center in St. Louis 

In 1982, when the Knights established the Developmental Center at Cardinal Glennon, it formalized a long-standing commitment to children with intellectual disabilities like Down syndrome and autism, which are common diagnoses among the athletes of Special Olympics Missouri. 

As Appelbaum points out, Cardinal Glennon is the only Catholic children’s hospital in America, so it was a perfect fit for the Knights’ desire for a children’s outreach program.

Empowering the hands of the medical community with support for autism

Today, the Knights of Columbus Developmental Center has been named an autism center of excellence and Appelbaum is Chairman of its National Board of Visitors.


Appelbaum is quick to recognize the leading-edge work of the medical team at Cardinal Glennon. And when he learned that Dr. Rolanda Maxim was writing prescriptions for Special Olympics for her developmental pediatrics patients, he was pleasantly surprised.


“She’s very humble – she keeps a low profile,” Appelbaum explains. “But whenever she sees social skills deficits or communication problems, she thinks outside the box.”


Dr. Maxim, Medical Director of the Autism Center for Excellence at the Knights of Columbus Developmental Center, credits the Knights with providing her and her colleagues with facilities and resources that make an impact with children and families.

“The Knights of Columbus are very supportive of children with disabilities,” says Dr. Maxim. “We’re very grateful for that.”


With Dr. Maxim’s prescription for Special Olympics, the Knights of Columbus have come full circle in their support for children with intellectual disabilities. And for Aimee Davidson, whose son Morgan was given that prescription, the impact of the Knights of Columbus support has changed their family’s lives.


“The Knights of Columbus have really made all this possible. I ran into some Knights of Columbus members taking donations outside a store one day,” Aimee relates. “I went up to them and told them I never realized all you do – it’s been a real lifesaver for us,” she says. “If they (the Knights of Columbus) weren’t there, I wouldn’t have Morgan on the right track.


Learn more about the prescription for Special Olympics >> 


Learn more about the Dr. Maxim and the Knights of Columbus Center for Intellectual Disabilities at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center >>

Learn more about how Special Olympics Missouri works with
the Knights of Columbus


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