Wortham honored for service to special needs children

David Yates Nov. 12, 2008, 5:00am

Employees of the Shorkey Center gathered for the facility's annual awards dinner Nov. 11 at the Holiday Inn.

Following in the footsteps of his mother, local Judge Bob Wortham has been helping advance the Shorkey Center's mission to help special needs children.

For his lifetime of service, the 58th District judge was honored at the Shorkey Center's 63rd Annual Meeting & Recognition Dinner, held at the Beaumont Holiday Inn on Tuesday, Nov. 11.

"What the Shorkey Center does is wonderful … it creates a future for children," Wortham said after receiving the Dr. Richard L. Shorkey Award. "I appreciate the award you have bestowed upon me tonight. But this award should be given to all the people (running) the center … not just me."

The Shorkey Center began as a private school in April 1944, providing "hand and arm work and locomotion for crippled and spastic children," according to the center's Web site.

In 1954 it became The Cerebral Palsy Foundation. In the summer of 2001, another name change occurred to rename the agency after retired medical director Dr. Shorkey.

Wortham said changing the center's name "was a great move" that helped to broaden the center's scope.

Soon after the name change to the Shorkey Center, the special needs school began the expansion of programs including speech therapy, autism and other related disorders.

"Dr. Shorkey was the man who carried The Cerebral Palsy Foundation on his back," he said, adding that his own involvement in the center's growth came through the influence of his mother who was also a volunteer.

Wortham has served on the Shorkey Board of Directors and as president. He was also instrumental in hiring the center's first administrator.

During the event, a former Shorkey student auctioned off some of her artwork to raise money for the center. Wortham demonstrated his generosity by buying a piece for $500 – the highest bid of the night.

The Shorkey Center exists to provide services for the individual with special needs, the center's Web site states.

These services include effective physical, occupational, and speech rehabilitation; direct education services including therapy for children with autism and other related disorders; after-school care; and parent assistance and support.

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