Sunday, June 14, 2015

Shrine Hospitals for Children

Those reading this not in North America may not know or understand what Shriners are. Even many on this continent only see the small groups or “patrols” that will often appear in parades or at community functions and will only understand them as the “old guys” riding motorcycles (full size and min), small or model versions of a Model A (tin Lizzies) or as clowns. These groups are designed to heighten awareness of the Shrine and to offer some entertainment but they are not the primary function of the club.
            Yes, the Shrine is a club made up of members who have become members of the Antient Order of Free and Accepted Masons. Freemasons can be found through-out the world but the Shrine is a club unique to North America. The primary function is to assist children (and their families) who require specialized treatment for orthopedic and burn surgery.
            There are Shriner’s Hospitals throughout North America usually associated with a sister facility. We only have one here in Canada, in Montreal, which is affiliated with the Montreal Children’s Hospital. The Shrine Hospital (Shrine funded) contains some specialized equipment and personnel as does the Children’s Hospital (Provincial and Federal funding) and the two institutions share this expertise and equipment.
            Here in Western Canada the various Shrine clubs are primarily concerned with transportation and access to Shrine Hospitals in the US. Most of the patients here in British Columbia, for example are bussed or flown to Portland or Seattle depending on their specific needs.
            Lately I have seen tables showing the amounts as a percentage of charitable donations various groups direct toward their actual advertised function and how much goes toward administration. In the case of the Shrine the administration – all Shriners – are all volunteers.
            The following are excerpts from the Shriner’s Public Relations Voice for May.

June is National Safety Month, and the perfect time for Shriners Hospitals for Children to launch its annual On Track for a Safe Summer campaign. This campaign showcases our commitment to keeping kids safe and injury-free, and will continue throughout the summer. With the support of NASCAR driver, Shriner, father and national spokesperson for the campaign, David Ragan, we hope to educate the public about the important role our health care system plays in children’s health and their overall safety when participating in summer activities. The On Track for a Safe Summer campaign combines public service announcements, community outreach, media opportunities and local activation throughout the summer to help parents reduce the risks of life threatening and life-changing injuries to children.

 Three-year-old Sapphyre Johnson and her new puppy, Lt. Dan, have been tugging at the heartstrings of many people throughout the world recently, making them overnight celebrities. Sapphyre, who has been a patient at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Greenville since she was 3 months old, and her new furry friend, have been featured on USA Today, ABC News, Good Morning America, the Today show website, Huffington Post, New York Post, BuzzFeed, the Rachel Ray Show and more, bringing far-reaching exposure and attention to both the Greenville Shriners Hospital and the Shriners Hospitals health care system. When a breeder found she had a puppy born without a paw, she decided to give the hospital a call in hopes that he could become the special friend of a patient there, and a staff member instantly knew Sapphyre would be perfect for him. Born with only two fingers on each hand and one toe on each foot due to a congenital condition, Sapphyre had both her feet amputated as a baby so that she would be able to eventually walk with prosthetics. Sapphyre and Lt. Dan, named after the Forrest Gump character, formed an instant bond, and quickly became inseparable. Their story first appeared in the Greenville News and GreenvilleOnline before it took off nationally, and then internationally.

On May 8, Shriners Hospitals for Children was featured in an episode of the popular television show Hawaii Five-0, which aired on CBS. The heartwarming scene was filmed at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Honolulu, and provided a great opportunity for national exposure. During the show’s season finale, Danny, played by actor Scott Caan, learned he has a son with an autoimmune disease and came to the hospital to see if he was a bone marrow match. The scene showed the hospital's beautiful building with its sign and colorful lobby. The Silent Messenger statue and two Fezzy bears were also seen by viewers. To view the entire episode, please visit

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