By Dawn Hatfield
GREENVILLE — Darke County Shrine Club held a dinner meeting on Oct. 26 at Romer’s Catering to celebrate a meaningful milestone. In 2020, the local Shriners pledged to donate $75,000 to Shriners Children’s Hospital within five years. Hitting their goal two years early, Darke County Shrine Club presented a final $29,000 check to the hospital, completing their full donation towards a conference room that will serve medical staff and families. This brings the club’s total hospital donations to nearly $2.2 million over its entire history.
Club Secretary Keith Hocker explained the funds are raised in a lot of ways. Shriners collect and sell aluminum cans throughout the year, house a booth at the Great Darke County Fair annually, collect change around communities in Darke County, and solicit donations from many area organizations and businesses. Hocker said, “It is all thanks to the good people of Darke County.”
John Burkett, Darke County Shrine Club president, said the club is fortunate to often have major contributions in the thousands of dollars from generous Darke County businesses. “Tonight is a result of all the people [of Darke County] supporting this,” said Burkett.
Past Potentate John Bull, Jr. was part of the team instrumental in moving Shriners Hospital for Children—Cincinnati to Dayton in 2021 to be housed within Dayton Children’s Hospital. This groundbreaking “hospital within a hospital” model equates to an $8 million savings each year. Bull explained that amount is equivalent to helping 29 more child burn patients annually. “Hospitals are not brick and mortar. The hospital is our staff—our doctors and our nurses. It’s what we do,” Bull was quoted on May 13 in “Family Ties Strengthen Bond with Fraternity, Hospital” article.
In addition to specializing in burns (both fire- and treadmill-related), cleft palates and cleft lips, Shriners Children’s hospitals also treat dog bites, orthopedic disorders, crippling injuries, spinal cord injuries, and many other conditions. Shriners Children’s Ohio Chief Administrator Randy White explained that even with Shriners expertise in craniofacial surgery, there are approximately 20 percent of cases that need more specialized care, such as those requiring neurosurgeons. By partnering with Dayton Children’s Hospital, the Shriners anticipate coordinating such care to become the top craniofacial facility. White said, “That contract is expected to be signed any day.”
Cambry Gossett, development officer at Shriners Children’s Ohio, told the story of a nine-year-old patient from the Congo whose hands had been boiled by militants in search of information the family did not have. “It is because the family knew a Shriner that they were able to get her here,” Gossett said. “At our hospital, she was able to find relief.”
According to ShrinersChildrens.org, Shriners Children’s hospitals are celebrating their 100th anniversary this year after thousands gathered on May 12, 1922, to witness the cornerstone placing of the initial Shriners Children’s hospital in Shreveport, La. The first patient, a little girl with clubfoot, was treated on Sept. 16 of that year.
Today, there are 22 Shriners Hospitals for Children throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Shriners Children’s Ohio serves over 26 states with the largest footprint of any Shriners hospital. The Ohio hospital has also served children from 35 countries around the world. Shriners pride themselves on wraparound care and arrange for travel and personal needs of the patient and their family in addition to required medical treatments. All this is provided regardless of a patient’s ability to pay.
Contact Daily Advocate Reporter Dawn Hatfield at 937-569-0066 or [email protected].