Media Shriners: Having fun & helping kids

Media Shriners: Having fin & helping kids
Published: Sep. 26, 2022 at 6:14 AM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - If you’ve never heard of Media Shriners before, it’s an international organization which helps sick children -- and has a lot of fun doing it.

With minibikes revved and fezzes on, the north country Media Shriners are making a difference in the community, one ride at a time.

The organization originated in 1872 when a group of Masons wanted to have some fun with their charity work.

That idea developed into 22 children’s hospitals across the U.S. and Canada.

“Our main mission is to provide transportation to children and their families to hospitals so they can get the care they need,” Media Shriners #55 Potentate David Riggons said. “We do this at no expense to the families whatsoever.

The nearest Shriners Children’s Hospitals are in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Montreal. In the north country, 18 children are currently being helped by local Shriners.

“My most recent transportation was a little girl from Lowville, who has brittle bone disease,” Riggons said. “We bring her to the hospital in Springfield, Massachusetts for physical therapy. And we have a number of Amish children that we bring to the Erie and Springfield hospitals.”

This year alone, the group has raised $15,000 for transportation costs and another $10,000 for one of the hospitals.

“It’s just amazing what the Shriners hospitals can do for the children,” patient transportation coordinator Migdalia Bryant said. “They can literally do for a child what no other hospital can do.”

The group keeps a silly facade over their more serious mission to keep things light for the kids.

“One of the great things is all the parades we participate in and seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces and even the grown-ups,” Media Shriner Noble Naaman Lowry said.

This year marks 100 since the first Shriner’s Children’s Hospital was built.

“It’s a big year, and we’re looking at ways to make sure we stay alive for 100 more years,” said John Randall, Media Shriners High Priest in Profit: “It’s all about helping the kids. That’s what this is all about.”

“There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing hope in the families’ eyes when their kids get help,” Riggons said. “We love what we do.”

To be a Shriner, you do have to be a Mason, but anyone can donate. Or, if you know a family in need, they can register to receive help at shrinerschildrens.org.