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Charity Checkpoint: Shriners

By: Shriners International

In 1870, Shriners International was founded in New York City. In the decades that followed, membership in the esteemed organization included Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman, as well as John Wayne. Over 150 years later, country superstar Brad Paisley is one of the modern-day faces of the fraternity based on “fun, fellowship and the Masonic principles of brotherly love, relief and truth.” On October 15 and 16 in Newberry, a new generation of Shriners will be initiated into the storied organization.

“Ceremonial weekend is an exciting and celebratory time when we welcome new members into our brotherhood,” said Jamie Smith, Fall Ceremonial Chairman. “One of the traditions of the ceremonial weekend is a parade, and on Saturday (October 16) at 10 a.m.–we will continue that tradition with a parade in Newberry down Main Street from Calhoun to Nance. We would love for the whole community to come out, enjoy the parade, and help us celebrate this new class of Shriners.”

Smith says that while many people may immediately think of the organization’s signature parades or the vibrant red hats, called a fez, worn by members when they think of a Shriner–he hopes they will also associate the group’s philanthropic mission: Shriners Children’s.

First established in 1922 in Shreveport, Louisiana, during the height of the polio epidemic, Shriners Children’s was known as Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children until 1996 when it was renamed Shriners Hospitals for Children. The hospital system grew to include facilities in every region of the United States, as well as locations in Canada and Mexico City.

In 1927, a hospital was built in Greenville, South Carolina. Focusing on providing orthopedic care to patients in six states–South and North Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia–today, the South Carolina location is home to the largest team of pediatric orthopedic surgeons in the Carolinas. The hospital’s care, however, can be extended to patients living outside of the traditional catchment area. In 2019, last recorded “typical” year, the hospital cared for children from 36 states and 12 countries outside of the United States.

“One misconception many people have is that they need to know a Shriner, or that they can’t have insurance and still receive our care; neither is true,” said Trana Pittam, Director, Marketing and Communications. “When we say we ‘offer care, regardless of the ability to pay,’ that includes both ends of the economic spectrum. Your insurance status, or lack thereof, is never a hurdle in receiving our care.”

The hospital has consistently been ranked in the top 5 percent in the nation for patient satisfaction among comparable hospitals in recent years, according to Pittam.

“It’s such a testament to our staff that, according to surveys completed by the families we serve, our care exceeds that of 95 percent of similar hospitals in the United States. Also, the South Carolina Hospital Association has recognized Shriners Children’s in Greenville for our exemplary safety record,” Pittam said. “I think the most convincing thing I can tell anyone about our hospital is that I am a mom of two active girls, and I bring my own children here–not because I work here, but because I want them to have the best orthopedic care available.”

The hospital treats over 85 conditions, from routine ankle sprains and broken arms to rare diagnoses like arthrogryposis and transverse myelitis–orthopedic conditions affecting a small fraction of the population.

Helping to fund a hospital providing 16,000 clinic appointments and 20,000 rehabilitation sessions each year, the newly initiated Shriners at the Newberry ceremonial will ultimately assist in making certain all children continue to have access to life-changing care.

Come out and support your local Shrine Club on SATURDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2021 AT 9 AM EDT. All of community is welcome to join in on the parade or support us by coming out and watching!

Shrine Community Parade 2021. More information can be found on Facebook with the Newberry Shrine Club.

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