OTTAWA— One-year-old Lilly Seabert of Streator participated in her first egg hunt on Saturday. Hundreds of families turned out for La Salle County Leo Club’s third annual Easter Carnival at Walsh Park in Ottawa.
“She’s not walking yet,” said Lilly’s mother, Carrie Seabert. “So Dad took her and got her two (eggs), and she’s been playing with them since.”
Lilly tapped her two plastic Easter eggs together under the supervision of her parents, Carrie and Mark, while her older sisters participated in the final round of the egg hunt.
“They’re all having so much fun,” Mark Seabert said. “It’s nice to see all the smiles on their faces.”
Carrie’s sister Jodi Hynds, visiting from Colorado with her boys, was pleased with the event.
“It was perfect,” Hynds said. “They all got just the right amount for their age.”
The children’s grandmother, Debbie Osborne of South Carolina, was happy with the structure of the event.
“I like the way they did it. Each one of the kids got something,” she said. “Sometimes kids walk away with nothing, and you see a lot of them crying and carrying on. This was well organized.”
Most of the organizing was done by the nine teenagers involved in the Leo Club. Advisor Janet Billings said the teens raised $1,200 in order to host the event, which included games and prizes in addition to the 70,000 plastic Easter eggs filled with candy for the egg hunt.
The Leos began hosting the Easter Carnival for the community in 2011, after other area events had their state funding cut.
“That’s how the kids came up with the event,” said Billings, who started the local Leos Club in 2010 — the same year she received a terminal cancer diagnosis with a two-year life expectancy.
“I shouldn’t have made this one,” Billings said, “so this is big for me.”
The Leos advisor said she is proud of La Salle County Leo Club, which was one of only two Illinois clubs — and only 55 worldwide — to receive the Club Excellence Award from the international service organization in 2012.
“I learned community service at a really young age,” Billings said. “Hopefully the Good Lord gives me some more time to spend with these kids and help them make their way.”
Anyone wishing to donate to the Leo Club scholarship fund can mail checks payable to La Salle County Leo Club to 3706 E. 18th Road, Ottawa, IL, 61350.
Amy Flanery can be reached at (815) 220-6975 or firstname.lastname@example.org.