Shriners- So Much More than Just Clowning Around
Shrine Clowns ham it up with a patient – image courtesy Shriners of BC &Yukon Child Services Society
Prince George, B.C. – With so many fund raising projects underway for a variety of children’s health services, the Shriners may get lost in the shuffle, but they are still very active, and still improving the lives of some very special children,
“The challenge we have is that we’re not all that overt” says Prince George Shriner, Scott Harriman. While the Shriners’ presence is most often noted in parades where Shriner clowns are on mini motorcycles, or walking along the parade route, there weren’t any parades in Prince George last year. “We haven’t really been in the public eye” says Harriman, “We sell some tickets part way through the year, people see us there, we help the Salvation Army with its Kettle drive, We’re out there, but we don’t pump our own tires.” What they are doing is planning their presence at special events, like the Bryan Adams concert in Prince George, where they raised $10 thousand dollars through the sale of CDs.
The dollars raised go towards covering the cost of transportation, accommodation and treatment at any one of the Shriner’s 22 hospitals which offer specialized care for children with orthopaedic, spinal cord injury, burn or cleft palate needs.
Over the past three years, the Shriners of British Columbia & Yukon Child Services Society has helped 824 patients from B.C. and the Yukon visit one of the two of the Shriners Hospitals for Children in the west, one in Portland Oregon, the other, in in Spokane. Those visits were covered in full by the Shriners, all $5.38 million dollars worth.
The Shriners also help families of children who need special equipment, such as wheelchairs and prosthetics and then there’s the “Shriners in the Community Fund”. “This is where our club will gather up some money and we will put it into various places where it needs to go right here in the community” says Harriman, “Lets say your grand daughter needs a special wheelchair and it’s not covered by insurance, that’s the next step we are taking.”
There are more than 80 Shrine clubs throughout BC and Yukon all working towards the common goal…for the kids, but in today’s world where social media has demonized clowns, Shriner Rod Holmes says he has changed his approach “This past year, with all the nonsense that’s been going on, I’m working on a character clown so I’m not the white faced clown so many are afraid of, I’m somebody who blows up balloons and has fun for the kids.” Holmes eyes fill with tears as he talks about the mission of the Shriners ” You know, you put a smile a on a kid’s face and you fix their body, I mean , what’s wrong with that? That’s what it’s all about, that’s why we do what we do.”
If you know of a child in need of this kind of assistance, the Shriners may be able to help.
For more information about Shriners Hospitals for Children or the Shriners in the Community Fund call toll free 1-800-661-KIDS (5437), or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org