At the age of twenty months, the family of Jim Hukill was informed he had a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy and that they should expect a life of limitations. However, today many of those restrictions are now far behind him. Jim has rolled his wheelchair past one barrier after another and the result is a schooled life in overcoming limits. Likewise, through their years of marriage, Rhonette Hukill has become equally skilled in juggling the affairs of maintaining a home while overseeing the care of her husband. Together, this remarkable couple has found themselves at the cutting edge of the disability community.
Before their marriage in May 1994, Jim and Rhonette began to explore available services that would assist them in developing a strong foundation for their marital future. After much research, the Hukill’s were deeply disappointed in the resources available. Equally alarming was the escalating number of broken homes within the disability community; 80% of families that encounter disability issues break up, and disability impacts 20% of the American population. This shocking discovery led them to launch Eleos – The Care Network, Inc., a ministry of hope, in November 1998.
In November 2006, Eleos launched Lift Disability Network. This program expansion and organizational restructure was designed by Eleos to Elevate Life in the Disability Family. Lift Disability Network aids the disability family with a suite of programs that include camping, monthly events and family services. Services are available to families in need without regard to creed/beliefs. Lift Disability Network is a community where the disability family is embraced, encouraged, and empowered. An intersection where helplessness meets hopefulness…a place of healing for wounded souls…and a connection to faith for a better life.
In 2013 Lift established an office in Missouri to complement their Florida office, with Josh and Heather Pennington carrying out the role of Program Directors. 2018 was a year of growth as the Missouri office added staff members and expanded to two monthly programs, held in O’Fallon and Warrenton/Montgomery City. The Missouri Lift location provides social activities and a summer camp for individuals and families of all ages affected by any disability. Participants served come from several counties in Missouri, including: St. Charles, St. Louis, Lincoln, Warren and Montgomery, and St. Louis City.
We are one of few organizations that support the WHOLE family affected by disability. It is Lift’s mission to encourage and support the individual with a disability in addition to caring for their siblings, parents, spouse and/or caregiver. Participants served range in age from five to 58 and disabilities include developmental, intellectual and physical disabilities, traumatic brain injuries, strokes and other chronic illnesses. To support the diversity of our families, we provide a variety of activities such as light-hearted cooking competitions and recreational events including adaptive snow and water skiing, and wheelchair basketball. Lift is a firm believer that overcoming physical challenges carries into a person’s everyday life as they meet, challenge, and succeed in daily trials.