Allen Broussard died in 1990 just four days after his 29th birthday.
He fought Hodgkin’s disease, numerous surgeries and had a heart transplant. Infection set in just a few weeks after the transplant. Allen didn’t make it.
Allen’s parents, William and Margaret, are a ophthalmologist and a mathematician respectively. I have never met them. While watching the slide show presentation at Forever Florida I discovered a lot about who they are.
Bill and Margaret loved Allen (and all their children.) They taught them to love and respect nature. Allen assimilated this teaching. Even as a youngster he had the ability to learn things from observation that escape the attention of most adults regarding the habits and characteristics of animals. He went on to do doctoral work as a wildlife ecologist in the natural world he loved so much. Numerous camping and hiking trips to remote destinations, such as Alaska, Australia, Germany and even a honeymoon to the Galapagos Islands continued to foster Allen’s love and devotion to the study of animals and their natural habitats.
When the physically fit Allen developed Hodgkin’s disease, his parents suffered through his health battles for 10 years. A few weeks before his heart transplant, he asked if the area around his boyhood playland of Bull Creek in Osceola County, FL could be preserved. His father thought it might be possible. Allen was so excited he began to call his friends and tell them the good news. When he died from infections just six weeks after receiving a new heart, his devastated family made it their mission to carry out this request.
No parent should ever have to experience the anguish of burying their child.
Allen loved animals and nature. He had a special affinity for birds; real birds. Yet it is a mythical bird that springs to my mind. The phoenix rises from the ashes of its own demise. Likewise, Forever Florida rose from the ashes of Allen’s passing.
Forever Florida is anchored by the Allen Broussard Conservancy–a non profit 501(c)(3) organization founded to preserve and protect fragile ecosystems of Florida’s native wilderness, provide a permanent habitat for wildlife, maintain the historical ranching operation and educate the public about the importance of conservation and the preservation of our unique heritage. In addition, Forever Florida is home to a working cattle ranch and eco-tourism.
It is the eco-tourism that is the most visible aspect of Forever Florida. Here, you will find a Zipline Safari, Horseback Safari, Coach Safari, campgrounds, ropes course, working cattle ranch and special events. Each of these will be described in later posts.
This post, however, focuses on Allen and how the grief of his passing and the love of his family came together to create a unique place of beauty, tranquility and education.
It is both touching and ironic that many of the acres of conservation found at Forever Florida are acres that were part of an old swindle, sold to northerners as develop-able lots but were really only swampland. When the owners of many of these lots found out what Forever Florida was trying to do, they donated their land to the Conservancy.
I will write several more blogs about this place. But, for now, I am simply struck by the deep love of parents for their dying son. A love that would last forever–Forever Florida.
A very special place that is well worth a visit.
4755 Kenansville Road
St. Cloud, FL 34773