From left to right: Marc Mendoza (patient,) Sally Bixby (president Tournament of Roses,) David Wehmeyer (Potentate, Al Malaikah Shriners) and Alyssa Mercado (patient.)
Helping Kids Live Their Dreams
By Valerie Milano
Pasadena, CA (Hollywood Today
) 1/2/2013 – “Patients helped create the floats and there must have been a dozen shrine patients that talked to us, that wanted to stand by the float and have pictures taken.” – Al Madsen Malaikah, Imperial Potentate of Shriners International speaking with Hollywood Today about their participation in the 124th
annual Tournament of the Rose Parade. Held each year as a celebration of the New Year, the main thoroughfare of Pasadena, California is flooded with colorfully decorated floats, a magnificent display of equestrians with their beautiful horses, and distinguished marching bands from around the globe. This year’s theme, Oh the Places You’ll Go!
, titled after the Dr. Seuss book, fit perfectly with Shriners International Hospitals mission to improve the well-being of children and ensure an opportunity to maximize their life potential.
It’s no coincidence Shriners International named their float, Helping Kids Live Their Dreams
, as they’re clearly an organization that does just that. Founded in 1872 under the leadership of Walter Fleming and William Lawrence, they eventually decided to align themselves with community relief efforts. In 1922, the first Shriners Hospital for Children was opened in Shreveport, Louisiana, serving the needs of children afflicted by various diseases, birth defects, and even orthopedic conditions. “We needed a cause, and really we wanted to treat polio, that was very common at the time.” Al Madsen on Shriner International’s campaign for child medical treatment. Their network of caregivers, facilities, and treatment options have since expanded to include 22 locations throughout the United States, Mexico and Canada, allowing them to provide help additionally to burn victims, those with injured spinal cords, as well as, cleft lip and palate patients.
Set to participate for their 88th
year in the East West Shrine Bowl Game, featuring all-star college football teams, on January 19th
at 4 p.m. EST, Shriners International was included in the Tournament of the Rose Parade only the last three years after a lengthy hiatus. Nonetheless, they are thrilled to once again have a presence at this festive event that is viewed by tens of millions worldwide. Former patients stopping by the float to give thanks touched Shriners International Imperial Potentate, Al Madsen. Having treated and discharged over one million young people, it’s no wonder so many wanted to acknowledge them on a personal level. “We take care of children, regardless of the families ability to pay.” Says Imperial Potentate, Al Madsen. Often serving the needs of those who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford the care, Shriners Hospitals for Children truly are Helping Kids Live Their Dreams.