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LLLI 50th Anniversary Picnic

Rebecca Magalhães
LLLI External Relations and Advocacy
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 42 No. 4, October-November-December 2006, p. 89

On Sunday, August 20, 2006, the LLLI Founders gathered with their children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren at the LLLI 50th Anniversary Picnic in Wilder Park in Elmhurst, Illinois, USA. The event was multi-generational with both longtime and new friends and supporters of our organization. It was perfect summer weather for a picnic -- a gentle breeze and not too hot!

The Honorable Paul Froehlich, Illinois State Representative, Mayor Thomas Marcucci of Elmhurst, Karen LeBan, Executive Director of the Child Survival Collaborations and Resources Group (CORE), and Brenda Snyder, Breastfeeding Coordinator for the Illinois Department of Human Services, joined over 300 mothers, fathers, babies, children, friends, LLL Leaders, and others to celebrate. The festivities were held to launch a year-long 50th Anniversary celebration of La Leche League International.

It was fitting that LLLI would host its 50th Anniversary Picnic at Wilder Park because 50 years ago at another picnic in Wilder Park, Marian Tompson and Mary White first became aware of and voiced to each other the need that mothers had for information and support. The birth of this idea for a neighborhood resource took off and grew into an international organization that helps women around the globe.

Later that year, in October 1956, Marian Tompson and Mary White met with five other women who held the first La Leche League meeting and began the organization.

Representative Froehlich, one of Edwina Froehlich's three sons, was a co-sponsor of the Illinois Right to Breastfeed Act that states a mother may breastfeed her baby in any location. He also sponsored a law that provides that any mother nursing her child shall, upon request, be excused from jury service. Mayor Marcucci proclaimed August 20 as Breastfeeding Awareness Day in Elmhurst. Karen LeBan of CORE presented a special plaque to the seven Founders for their courage, vision, and belief in the role of breastfeeding in maternal, infant, and child health. CORE is a consortium of 44 private voluntary organizations that are dedicated to improving the health and well-being of children in developing countries. CORE members work in 168 countries around the world. Brenda Snyder also gave a tribute to the Founders. As the Breastfeeding Coordinator for the Illinois Department of Human Services, Brenda works through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) to provide education, promotion and support to more than 64,000 low-income pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Attendees at the 50th Anniversary Picnic participated in fun that included sing-a-longs, games for both children and adults, photo opportunities with the Founders, as well as other activities. A similar picnic was held in Wilder Park in 1981 to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of LLLI. At that time, trees and benches were donated by various groups and dedicated to LLLI in honor of the 25th Anniversary. This year, three additional trees were donated: one by LLL of Illinois, one by current and past LLLI staff, and a surprise tree that was donated by the children of Marian Tompson.

To those who attended the Picnic and those who are on the 50th Anniversary Planning Committee, thank you for making this event a memorable gathering that celebrated and honored the seven women who recognized the importance of mother-to-mother support and decided to make a difference.

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