Our people are what makes El Riad strong and successful. There are so many to thank for their hard work at doing just that in the many activities since our last issue of the Cactus.

In August, the Central States Shrine Association (CSSA) held their annual summer session in Sioux City, IA. You ask what does CSSA have to do with El Riad, an MSA temple? Well, some El Riad nobles made an appearance at that event and left a lasting impression. The Steel Drum Band, led by President Rob Angerhofer, loaded the ambulance and the trailer with drums and drummers and made the trek to the south for the Saturday parade. The boys in pink represented us in a fine manner and were well received with many accolades from fellow Shriners and the crowd along the parade route. The Motor Corps Unit with Commander Ken Ward in charge was invited by the CSSA motor corps association to participate in the competition activities and join in the parades. And compete they did…bringing home ALL of the top hardware in the two-wheeled heavy division, including two CSSA traveling trophies. And to add a bit of fanfare to that, their winning efforts were observed by Imperial Potentate Jeff Sowder, who at the awards dinner had many fine things to say about our own El Riad Motor Corps. The unit also participated in both parades at CSSA. Needless to say, we at El Riad can be proud of the initiative of the Steel Drum Band and the Motor Corps in taking our show on the road to another Shrine association and contributing to the Shrine experience that all temples and associations give to the public. Well done nobles!

In late August, El Riad hosted the coaches and players of the Augustana Vikings football team at the annual football dinner preceding the playing of the 48th El Riad Shrine game.

We hosted 100+ for dinner and were blessed with the attendance of our Shrine football patient ambassador Ayisha, her sister Rowan and mom Sally. This event is always a highlight of our Shrine year, and according to our good friend and supporter “Coach O,” it is a favorite event for the football team and coaching staff as well. Now, even though Ayisha is a typical teenager, she is shy and didn’t want to speak in front of a crowd. But through the creativity of Shutterbugs nobles Rocky Hayes and Gavin Wigg, an impressive video filmed at Falls Park was created about Ayisha’s Shrine journey and shown at the dinner, and which will be shown again at halftime of the Shrine game. Working hard to achieve success and enjoyment of this event and to whom I offer my sincere appreciation were members of the Divan, the Culinary Unit led by President-for-life Steve Hauff, the Divan Ladies (pop pouring duties), Chief Aide Paul Berndt and the Pote’s Aides, and last but not least the Fife and Drum Corps, led by Brigadier Randy Schilling. For many years, the Fifes have paid for the cost of the football team dinner as one of their many reoccurring contributions to the philanthropy of Shriners Hospitals for Children. Their participation in this event and their donations of money speaks loud and clear about their dedication to the work of the charity. Fifes, we are very proud of what you do for the kids.

September 5 saw the playing of the 17th Annual Shrine Cup golf tournament hosted by El Riad at Willow Run Golf Course. This event is one of two major events at El Riad where the funds are for the benefit of the El Riad patient transportation fund and Shriners Hospitals for Children, Noble Ryan Simmons once again led a small but enthusiastic group of nobles to make this event a success, raising a total of $21,808 to benefit the kids who need us the most. My sincere gratitude goes out to the members of the Shrine Cup Committee for annually pounding both the pavement and upon business doors to get the corporate sponsors and players who make this thing work. You can be proud of your accomplishments.

On September 7, Chief Rabban Al Zahn and his committee hosted a great Nobles’ Party with the theme “Summer Fun.” This party, once known as the Potentate’s Ball and most recently as the Pote’s Party, treated 130+ nobles and ladies to great food, great music and great fun. The Nobles’ Party committee worked hard through several meetings to make sure that everyone enjoyed their evening out. New to the event this year was an invitation to new nobles and ladies to attend this event free of charge to get them acquainted with the fun that we have, and we were successful in that endeavor. In my view, this event is not about the Potentate but rather it should be about celebrating the success we enjoy because of the dedication of the nobles and ladies. Many thanks to Al and all members of his committee, the Culinary Unit, Pote’s Aides, Shutterbugs & Pixels, El Riad Office and Building Staff, and Noble Curt Hauff and Sugar Daddy for achieving my goal. And, I extend a special thank you to Noble Kevin Tomshack and Lady Robin for continuing to serve on this committee year after year as emeritus members long after their terms expired. Their hard work and great ideas, and the fun they have doing so, always adds to a good party had by all.

One final September event to talk about, and that’s the 48th Annual Shrine Football game hosted by Augustana University and El Riad held on September 21. Noble Ken Ward and his dedicated group of nobles brought us an outstanding event once again. Many of the same committee members have worked on this event year after year and the experience shows. This is the second of our major fundraisers for the transportation fund and hospital system, and this year we raised a total of $12,750 for the benefit of the kids and their families. We are very proud to be able to partner with Augustana University, as they have been very generous by providing us the forum to raise money for the charity. Adding to the success of this event in addition to the committee were the Culinary Unit, Fife and Drum Corps, Steel Drum Band, Swing Band, Shutterbugs/Pixels, Legion of Honor, Clown Unit, Rickshaws, Pote’s Aides, and the nobles who purchased tickets, sponsorships and honorary coach memberships. To whomever I missed I do apologize, but I appreciate all of the contributions and effort of those involved. You truly make a difference in the lives of others by your participation.

Wow, what a busy summer. We always have a lot of things going on, and those things can’t happen and El Riad can’t be successful without the contributions of each noble and lady working individually as well as with a unit or club. I have been exposed to many Shrine temples in my almost 10-year presence on your leadership line, and I can truly say that there are not many temples across Shriners International that work as hard as El Riad. Our people make the difference. Keep up the great work.


John Whitelock, Potentate

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