Shriners ride to keep hospitals open

By: Michel Mason Email
By: Michel Mason Email

For decades the Shriners have helped children overcome some of the worst conditions and injuries, now the group is fighting to keep that alive.

A drop in donations means some Shriners Hospitals could close.

The Harlan County Shrine Club and many others are doing whatever they can to help hospitals in Lexington and Cincinnati.

Shriners and bikers - it's a partnership that makes the first ever Harlan Club's Ride for the Children possible.

"We'll do anything for the kids, you know. We love to ride, but we'll ride for the kids anytime, any day," said rider Jeremy Smith.

"We're working hard to see that our hospital does not close. That's what we're doing this extra work for," said Club President Tommy Pace.

This ride couldn't come at a better time because at the beginning of July the Shriners will meet at their national convention. There, they could decide to close at least six hospitals. The Harlan County Shrine Club wants to make sure that doesn't happen close to home.

All 22 Shriners Hospitals treat children at no cost. With declining donations and rising healthcare expenses, it's getting tough. Club members say at least five children from Harlan County needed their help this month.

"It's the difference between whether a child walks or not, and the quality of life they have after they receive this care," said Pace.

The ride includes dinner and a silent auction with items donated by local businesses and residents. The club hopes to raise at least $2,500.

"Let's just keep our fingers crossed, and good Lord willing we'll have a safe ride and reach our goal," added Pace.

So they can keep giving children in need a shoulder to lean on.

The Harlan Shrine Club is planning another ride this fall. To make a donation to Shriners Hospitals, visit www.shrinershq.org.


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