by John Whitelock, PP, Recorder

Imagine a child, who was told she would never walk, running into the arms of her parents for the first time. As Shriners, we believe every child has the opportunity to reach their fullest potential. We help kids achieve their dreams. And as El Riad Shriners, once again we stand tall as we strive to help those who need our help in achieving their fullest potential, and their dreams.

The 6th Annual Shriners Children’s Twin Cities Gala was held on September 10 at the Depot in Minneapolis. The theme of the event for 2021 was “Imagine, Believe, Achieve.” The event celebrated a history of 98 years of helping children with orthopedic conditions, regardless of a family’s ability to pay. Over 400 nobles, patrons and guests of Shriners Children’s were in attendance, led by Imperial Sir Jerry Gantt, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Shriner’s Children’s, and Imperial Sir Matt Sturlagson, Marshal of the Imperial Divan. Also attending and representing El Riad’s nobility were Jim Burma, PP, and member of the Board of Governors of Shriners Children’s Twin Cities, John Whitelock, PP, Recorder, and Marshal Bill Thompson. 

The highlight of the evening was meeting Alec Cabacungan and hearing of his inspirational journey of care throughout the Shrine healthcare system, and what Shriners have done to help him achieve his dreams. Alec has been the official patient spokesman for many years, and has done numerous television commercials to help tell the Shrine story and raise funds for our mission. Alec revealed that he recently achieved two of his dreams – by enrolling in Northwestern University and obtaining his driver’s license. Following Alec on the stage was Parker Hanson, a former Shrine patient and Augustana University athlete. Parker relayed his experiences with Shrine care and told the recent story when his prosthetic arm was stolen, and was ultimately replaced by Shriners Children’s even though he had aged-out of our system. 

“Imagine, Believe, Achieve” describes well the commitment of the El Riad nobility to supporting the goals of our philanthropy. As has been our custom, El Riad donates substantial sums of money via the Shrine Cup golf event and the Shrine football game every year. However, in 2021 your Divan felt the calling to imagine, believe and achieve and do more for our philanthropy in addition to what we normally give. Thanks to a forward-looking leadership team, hardworking nobles and ladies, and generous contributors, El Riad was able to give an additional $50,000 to Twin Cities, which was graciously acknowledged by Shriners Children’s at the Gala. Our nobility stood tall that evening of September 10, and each noble, lady, and unit and club has every reason to feel pride in what we, El Riad Shriners, do to help kids achieve dreams.