Dr. Will Blechman Awarded the Lawton Chiles Child Advocacy Award
Congratulations to Past Kiwanis International President, Dr. Wil Blechman, for being awarded with the prestigious Lawton and Rhea Chiles Child Advocacy Award at a standing room only Children’s Week gala in Tallahassee on Monday, January 22nd.
In the presence of dear wife Rachel, daughter Amy, and grandson Jordon, Dr. Wil accepted the honor by providing the audience of 460 with a passionate speech advocating the needs of children, opportunities to invest on their behalf and the vital role we Kiwanians play in promoting children’s well-being at home and worldwide.
A Washington, D.C. native, Dr. Blechman is a graduate of Yale University and the Medical College of Virginia. He trained at Johns Hopkins Hospital prior to entering into a private practice of rheumatology in Miami in 1961.
After a 33-year medical practice (he described as “mostly attending to the aches and pains of the aging – arthritis, neuritis, neuralgia”) he began learning from several of his Miami patients about the needs of young children — emotional, educational and economic.
A scientist at heart, Blechman invested considerable energies researching the needs of young children, interviewing scores of experts and visiting clinics, model programs and attending conferences to help formulate his belief of the importance of healthy childhoods.
He retired from medical practice in 1994 to devote his efforts to focus on advocating for young children and explaining their developmental needs to policymakers, business leaders, civic organizations and, as he said “anyone who will listen and act on the message.”
As an active club member and leader in Kiwanis, having already served as Governor of the Florida District, he ascended to the hierarchy of Kiwanis International, the civic service organization with special interests in the well-being of the world’s children.
During his service as International President of Kiwanis, Blechman launched the landmark Young Children Priority One initiative — a clarion call for investing wisely in the future of our children. His message had been heard in every corner of the world.
Among his civic and professional service investments have been the Children’s Trust of Miami-Dade, the Florida Children’s Forum, Florida Association for Infant Mental Health and the Lawton Chiles Foundation.
Blechman, now in his mid-80s, continues to promote health, safety, early education and quality care for a generation of children who need us to be strong advocates for their successful futures.
One of Blechman’s credos is rooted in the words of James Baldwin: ”For they are all our children … we will profit by or pay for whoever they become.”
And as we all know, that work must endure for today’s and every day’s 425 Florida newborns — that’s 11,200 every day in the U.S. and 350,000 in the world. Every one of us is obligated to advocate on their behalf.
Blechman is one of Florida’s true citizen heroes. His advocacy is driven by the three P’s…passion, persuasion and persistence. He personifies the adage, "Where there’s a Wil, there’s a way!"