Thursday, August 07, 2008 by Daisy Grant
Years ago I spent two weeks in Shriner's Hospital in California. It was supposed to be longer, but taking the tumor out of my leg brought me out of a wheelchair much more swiftly than expected. The rest of that story is for another day, but suffice it to say that it was a surprising and profound experience for me.
Years later I did a report for school on the Shriners. As part of it I interviewed my personal Shriner, the guy who was assigned to look out for me. At the time I asked him about the all of the bad press Shriners had received for having huge parties when they were supposed to be serious supporters of needy children.
He blew it off. Bad press? I don't notice that, he said. Then he told me that the press he did notice was the story about a young girl who'd been badly burned she was airlifted to Shriners Hospital in Boston.
That conversation stuck with me for years -- make fun of the Shriners all you want with their goofy outfits and their ridiculous parade cars. But they provide free health care to kids who can't afford it at 22 hospitals. And so, we see what we want to see: