MP Dan Albas knows first hand the value of the Shriners Hospitals for Children.
In Grade 6 he had an accident, leaving him with severe burns to over 90 per cent of his body and barely able to walk. But it was a trip to the Shriners Portland, Ore. hospital which would have a significant impact on his recovery.
So it was no surprise the Okanagan-Coquihalla MP was front and centre at the Carl Junior’s Restaurant this week to welcome the Exceptional Care Odyssey’s FezMobile which is on the final leg of it’s cross-country tour.
“I remember back then, they (Shriners) said to me, ‘Dan we’re going to take you down to Portland and we’re going to see what we can do to help you and your family so you can do all the other things the other kids can do,” Albas told the group of local Shriners about that very difficult time in his life.
“I still remember to this day and the generosity of the Shriners.
“That’s how you helped me and you’re doing that for thousands of kids right across the country regardless of who they are and what they want to be and I just want to thank you on behalf of all those kids.
“Thank you for what you give to all those kids.”
The tour was launched on the east coast in May in a Ford Explorer dressed up as a Shriner’s Fez, complete with tassel.
The purpose of the journey is to celebrate the construction of the new Canadian Shriners Hospital in Montreal, Que. that provides orthopaedic care for children from across Canada northeastern United States and around the world.
Scheduled opening is the fall of 2015, the facility will offer greatly improved state-of-the art services, and according to officials, will take caring for kids to a whole new level.
The current campaign with the FezMobile is hoped to raise $130 million, part of which will go to paediatric musculoskeletal research.
According to spokesperson Gemma Bélanger part of the drive is to have an opportunity to meet the club members and their families in their own communities and say thank you.
“What they do for us is absolutely incredible. If we didn’t have our Shriners, we wouldn’t have a hospital and if we didn’t have our hospitals we wouldn’t be able to help Canadian children from coast to coast that need ultra specialized paediatric orthopaedic care,” she said.
“They really take care of our families from A to Z. From transportation, bringing them to the hospital, their food, their lodging, the entire medical experience from orthotics to prosthetics, everything is taken care of and they don’t have to worry about a thing while they are there.”
President Carl Tymm of the local Shriners organization was not only pleased the caravan stopped in Penticton but also for the support of the Carl Junior’s Restaurant chain.
“They’re really championing the kids and I think it is very important what they are doing to help us,” said Tymm.