As summer is slowly coming to an end, students across the Region are breaking out their backpacks and sharpening their pencils for another year of learning. For many students, back-to-school doesn’t just mean back to the books—it also means back to school sports! Student athletes from Kahler, Clark, and Grimmer Middle Schools prepared for the start of their upcoming sports seasons by completing their yearly physicals Monday evening at Grimmer Middle School (GMS). Thanks to Dr. Keith Pitchford, founder, president, and CEO of Great Lakes Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, P.C., the benefits of the examinations were two-fold.
“Dr. Pitchford donates all of the funds from these physicals back to the school athletic programs,” said Lisa Huguenard, GMS Athletic Director. “Not only do these kids get cleared to participate safely in their sports—the schools can also use funds to purchase athletic equipment!”
“We’ve seen as many as 100 kids come through here, so we could have up to $2,500 to give back to the schools just from this one day,” Pitchford added.
“It’s been really helpful to us the last few years with getting things started for our fall sports, especially with paying for officials and acquiring any equipment we need,” Huguenard continued.
While this is the fourth year GMS has hosted an opportunity for young athletes to get physicals squared away, Dr. Pitchford has been giving back to the community for nearly two decades.
“I started this program for the physicals almost 20 years ago now,” Pitchford said. “We began with the local high schools, working with Crown Point, Lowell, Merrillville, and Lake Central. Then in the last few years we’ve expanded to the junior high schools, as well.”
“This does several things for the community,” Pitchford continued, “mainly providing a central location where everyone can come, get their paperwork done, and get it to the proper authorities right away.”
One of the biggest advantages of the program is the price of the physicals, which were offered for $25, a significant discount compared to the typical exam performed at a doctor’s office.
“Some families have three kids, so if it’s $100 for a physical at their local family practitioner, here they can get all three done for less than the price of one regular sports physical,” Pitchford said. “That makes a big difference for families with multiple children, so we love helping them out with that.”
Patti Lawson and her son Braydon, an incoming seventh grader with a love for football, came out to take advantage of the substantial offer.
“I think it’s very kind and generous of Dr. Pitchford to take his time to do this for our kids,” Lawson said. “I know he’s busy, so for him to do this for the community is very thoughtful.”
John Depner attended with his daughter Jessica, an incoming eighth grader excited to get her soccer season started.
“I think it’s great that Dr. Pitchford does this,” Depner said. “It’s so nice and convenient to do this here rather than going out to an actual doctor’s office.”
Thanks to Dr. Pitchford and his dedicated staff, the athletes of Kahler, Clark, and Grimmer Middle School are ready to rock their sports seasons! Good luck to all of our local athletic teams as they head into another year of fun-filled competition.