Yaling and I were delighted to attend the Shriners Hospital for Children’s Snow Day at the recently renovated and upgraded hospital campus over the weekend. Snow Days are a popular holiday treat for kids in Hawaii, and the many patients and their families at Shriners are no exception.

My connection to Shriners goes back twenty years, when my first job in Hawaii was working public relations for the hospital’s Share in the Magic campaign to raise funding for hospital renovations. It was amazing to see how far the facilities have come. The hospital accepts local kids too at their weekday walk in orthopedic clinic for sports injuries and fractures. Additionally the hospital has a Neurodevelopmental clinic that helps local kids with Epilepsy , autism , ADHD and more. There’s even a hotel at the hospital, which accommodates the families of patients free of charge.

Person in wheelchair playing in snow

The Shriners Snow Day was hosted by local radio celebrity Lina Girl, who did a great job of getting the crowd excited. Patients and their families gathered on the manicured grass as a truck backed in with its payload of fresh snow. Lina Girl led the crowd in a countdown to the unloading of twenty tons of the snow. Everyone cheered as the snow tumbled out of the truck, and sang “Hawaiian Twelve Days of Christmas.
The look of joy and wonder on the faces of the patients and their families brought tears to my eyes as I thought about how much an event like Snow Day means to them, and how devoted the Shriners are when it comes to caring for sick children. Their passion and commitment are inspiring.

There are 340,000 Shriners worldwide, with 195 Shrine Centers spanning the globe. There are 22 Shriners Hospital for Children in the Unites States, Mexico, and Canada. Historically, the hospitals required only that patients be treatable and under the age of 18. Of the 22 Shriner hospitals, Honolulu is the 2nd in the United States. The treatment required no financial obligation to patients’ families. In 2012, a decreased endowment saw Shriners begin to charge the insurance companies of patients’ families, but they continue to treat uninsured patients.

girl being helped into snow at Shriners hospital

Shriners Hospitals treats their young patients with various needs including orthopedic care and spinal cord injury rehabilitation. The Honolulu hospital treats children from all over the Pacific. In addition to treatment, Shriners also provides education and conducts research. It had been years since I attended the Shriners Hospitals for Children Snow Day, and Saturday’s event reminded me of just how many children and their families the Shriners have helped over the years. Shriners are familiar for their unusual fezzes, and their many appearances in annual parades riding in miniature cars.  But their work is much more than silly hats and novelty cars. Their sponsorship of the Shriners Hospital for Children Open, a PGA tour golf tournament, has raised many millions of dollars over the years, and their legacy has saved countless lives.

At the Shriners Snow Day on Saturday, I felt proud to have been part of Shriners so many years ago, to be part of a team that worked to get the funding for the gleaming new Honolulu facility. I also felt grateful to have been able to witness the sheer happiness of the patients and their families. The Shriners Hospitals motto is “Love to the Rescue,” and it was easy to see that love at work at the Shriners Snow Day.

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