Pilot Club tree lighting is Monday

For 37 years now, the Pilot Club of Odessa and the Permian Basin Rehab Center have partnered up for the Community Christmas Tree Lighting at Optimist Park.

This December, that tradition will continue as this year’s event is scheduled to take place at 6 p.m. Dec. 6 at Optimist Park, located off 37th Street and Grandview Avenue.

The Pilot Club of Odessa hosts the Community Christmas Tree each year as a way to raise money to provide the highest quality therapy to the patients of Permian Basin Rehab Center.

For a donation of $10 or more, a light is lit on the tree in honor or in memory of someone special.

“Each year, for 37 years, we’ve had the community Christmas tree,” Finance Director for the Permian Basin Rehab Center Mary Blain said. “While we ask the community if they want to honor someone, they can light a candle bulb for $10. We’ve been doing this since 1985 and we ask the individuals in the …. The pilot club has gathered more than $417,000 towards the rehab center. We want to simply continue to spread the message of what the Permian Basin rehab center is doing by improving the quality of life for the patient in this area, especially in this COVID era. We’re seeing more patients need more services and some of them can’t afford some of it and there are a lot of financial hardships. So the Pilot Club contributes to that. The Rehab Center does the rest. We just help.”

Each year, one patient from the Rehab Center is chosen to light the tree which glows each evening through early January.

This year’s patient who will light the tree will be Sophie Madrid.

“It’s beautiful for the kid,” Blain said. “She’s in a wheelchair. She was in a car accident with her mom. She has so much hope and joy that we all need a little bit of that. She and her mom will be there. Let’s hope that we have a good group.”

Blain says that $10 can go a long way.

“The rehab center is one of the finest patient centers and we’re a nonprofit organization,” Blain said. “We just ask for those $10 and it’s amazing how much people pour support towards that, especially for patients for speech therapy and services that are a big benefit. The Permian Basin Rehab Center serves 35 counties. We’re talking about New Mexico and Texas. All the proceeds go to the rehab center.”

While Blain didn’t have an exact amount of how much has been raised so far this year, she said it is over $10,000.

“Yesterday we got a few and today we’ve gotten a little bit more,” Blain said.

Those who want to donate can do so at tinyurl.com/2p99exzt.

Permian Basin Rehab Center Executive Director Kim Ortega said that the Community Christmas Tree Lighting is an event that they always look forward to each year.

“It’s a wonderful time for us and a great time to kick off the Christmas season,” Ortega said. “We get to introduce our patient representative for 2022. They get to light the Christmas tree. It’s very special and it’s a demonstration of the community support that the rehab center has to continue to provide therapy services to children and adults with disabilities and without that community support, we wouldn’t be able to help the patients that we help every day. We’re grateful for the pilot club for all they do in continuing to support us. They’ve been doing it for years and it’s a special relationship. We’re grateful for their support.”

Ortega is hopeful for a larger turnout as well this year.

“It’s pretty much back to normal,” Ortega said. “It’s an outside event so that makes it easier but last year, it was smaller. We had fewer people so we’re looking forward to having more people this year to meet Sophie and see who she is and celebrate the kickoff to the Christmas season.”

If you go

>> What: Community Christmas Tree Lighting

>> When: 6 p.m. Dec. 6

>> Where: Optimist Park

>> How to donate: tinyurl.com/2p99exzt