DENVER (KDVR) – They’ve donated nearly $5 million and dedicated 75 years to serving Coloradans with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Now, the Colorado Elks Association is being honored for its decades of service to Denver’s disabled population.

The Association of Fundraising Professionals Colorado Chapter has named the Colorado Elks Association “Outstanding Service Organization of the Year.”

“They’ve been with us almost every step of the way,” said Douglas McNeill, CEO of Laradon, a Denver-based agency that offers education, a youth center, adult day programs, employment programs and community living for Coloradans of all ages who are living with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“The Elks have been essential. From helping purchase (our) building for $10,000 with our founders, and opening (our) doors, until now, where they’ve been monumental in the various improvements that we’ve had along,” said Jennifer Hendrick, president of the Laradon Foundation.

Starting around 1950, the Colorado Elks Association began raising money for Laradon, and they’ve raised millions since.

“They have people in here all the way from young kids to people that are my age, in their 80s or 90s. The Elks contribute a significant amount of money to Laradon every year,” said Larry Burgess, president of the Laradon Hall Society Board of Directors.

Because of their work at Laradon, and the other projects they help with around the state, the Colorado Elks Association will be honored Nov. 9 at a National Philanthropy Day event hosted by the Association of Fundraising Professionals Colorado Chapter.

When you see the lives that are being changed at Laradon, it’s easy to understand why the Elks would want to get involved.

“Laradon has served thousands upon thousands of children and adults, helping them create a better life for themselves,” McNeill said.

“(The Elks) have been an invaluable partner for decades,” he added.