Shriners Hospital Dads debut new van — with PCCC logo

The Shriners Hopsital Dads, part of the Abou Ben Adhem Shriners of Springfield, showed off their new van Monday during Media Day.
The Shriners Hopsital Dads, part of the Abou Ben Adhem Shriners of Springfield, showed off their new van Monday during Media Day.

Their old passenger van pushed past 200,000 on the odometer several miles back, leading to natural concerns about a breakdown during an important mission.

However, the Springfield-based Shriners Hospital Dads – and the kids and their families which they transport to regional hospitals – are now riding in style, thanks to the Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr Pepper.

The Shriners showed off their newly purchased 15-seat van – complete with the PCCC logo emblazoned on its outside panels – during Media Day on Monday, June 1 at Highland Springs Country Club. Mainly, the van represents the generosity of the Ozarks and all the good that can be again this summer when the 26th annual PCCC plays on Aug. 13-16 at Highland Springs.

The tournament’s 44 charities already have hit the pavement in selling $25 TLC Properties Charity Sweepstakes tickets, while Tournament Director Jerald Andrews and staff are reaching out to businesses eager to sponsor various events.

The tournament is part of the PGA’s Web.com Tour and hauled in a record $1 million-plus last year, with a portion going to the Shriner’s for their new van.

“Some kids we’ve transported for 10 years, sometimes every month and every week,” said Dick Fuller of the Abou Ben Adhem Mosque. The Hospital Dads are in their seventh year with the PCCC. “It’s a 10-hour round trip. By the time you get home, you realize you don’t have any problems in life. The kids and their families we take, they have challenges. Financially, they couldn’t afford to go.”

The back of the Shriners Hospital Dads' new van.
The back of the Shriners Hospital Dads’ new van.

Media Day included representatives of PCCC charities – Jackie Barger of Children’s Smile Center, Brandi Van Antwerp of Habitat for Humanity and Mark Bohon of Shriners Hospital Dads. Each spoke of the ways they’ve turned the tournament’s donations into real results.

“The Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr Pepper has been a passion of this community for a quarter-century. Over the years, we’ve heard stories that tug at your heart strings, and it’s easy for all of us to leave the house every day with an extra bounce in our steps,” Tournament Director Jerald Andrews said. “However, our work is never done. Each sponsorship and each ticket sold helps children of the Ozarks. We ask the community to join us in this mission.”

SUPPORTING THE PCCC = SUPPORTING CHARITIES

  • SUPPORT SHRINERS HOSPITAL DADS: The group, part of the Abou Ben Adhem Shriners of Springfield, transport kids and their families to Shriners hospitals in St. Louis, Cincinnati and Chicago. Call 1-800-237-5055.
  • BUSINESS SPONSORSHIPS: Businesses also can support the PCCC through various sponsorships, such as the daily newsletter, website or through several events such as a dozen Pro-Ams.
  • DONATE GIFT CARDS: Restaurants, clothing stores and entertainment stops, can donate a gift card with at least a $25 value in the name of their charity of choice, for the daily Golf Ball Charity Auction.
  • FOR GOLF FANS, WIN PRIZES: The purchase of a $25 TLC Properties Charity Sweepstakes ticket means a four-day pass to the PCCC on Aug. 13-16 at Highland Springs Country Club as well as daily chances to win gift cards from the local businesses. You’re also automatically entered to win a $10,000 prize and a 2015 Ford Mustang.
  • FOR TICKETS: Contact the local charity of your choice, simply because they receive revenue directly from those TLC Property Charity Sweepstakes tickets marked with their names.
  • CONTACTS: Call the Price Cutter Charity Championship staff at 417-887-3400.

About the Shriners Hospital Dads

For the Shriner’s Hospital Dads, the PCCC’s mission mirrors their own. The idea of transporting kids to Shriners hospitals in St. Louis, Cincinnati and Chicago grew out of need in the late 1990s. Families with limited financial means needed help in transporting their kids — some who worn born with cleft palates, or were battling scoliosis or recovering from severe burns. Soon, a van was purchased, and some of the retirees of the Abou Ben Adhem took the lead as drivers. Fuller was among them.

What an emotional day it can be. Last year alone, the van made 115 trips.

“I think my first trip to the hospital, it was an adventure because you didn’t know what you were getting into,” Fuller said, noting most trips leave at 4 a.m. in order to meet 8 a.m. doctor’s appointments in St. Louis. “But when you meet them downtown at the Shrine, they’re all bundled up because of all kinds of weather … it starts to get emotional right there.”

As expected, the Shriners most recent van logged thousands of miles in short order. Kids with scoliosis or other orthopedic issues needed rides to St. Louis. Those with cleft palates needed transportation to Chicago, and so the Shriners drove their families to the St. Louis airport and made certain they could cover cab fare once in the Windy City. The Cincinnati Shriners hospital cares for kids recovering from burns.

From left, members of the Shriners Hospital Dads of Springfield are Dick Fuller, Mark Bohon, Don Powell (back), Mike Edwards and Dan Lawler.
From left, members of the Shriners Hospital Dads of Springfield are Dick Fuller, Mark Bohon, Don Powell (back), Mike Edwards and Dan Lawler.

Volunteering at the PCCC

To make a new van possible, the Shriners go all out for the Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr Pepper. They gather about 65 people, including their wives and teenage children, and volunteer during the August tournament. Most years, you’ll see Mike Edwards on hole No. 1, or Mark Bohon and Dan Lawler driving vehicles that transport the professional golfers across the city. Fuller mans the driving range. They are among the hundreds of volunteers that help make the tournament a success.

However, their support of the tournament does not begin there. Like all other PCCC charities, they will spend this summer selling the $25 TLC Properties Charity Sweepstakes tickets, which are good for a four-day tournament pass as well as entry for daily prizes. Additionally, fans are entered to win grand prizes of $10,000 and a 2015 Ford Mustang.

“This has been absolutely a tremendous shot in the arm, this Price Cutter tournament, for several reasons,” Fuller said. “For one, you have to have some kind of project to keep the Shriners units involved and excited about something. And, two, this helps us support the hospitals by supporting other projects with other budgeted money.”

Call it a labor of love for the Shriners, Fuller said in so many words.

“It got started because the Shriners, when we would sponsor a child, we took the responsibility of transporting them to St. Louis,” Fuller said. “If they needed a ride or help, it would be my responsibility. As time went on, we saw more and more of a need. And people just don’t have the time to do it. And families don’t have the finances or vehicles to get to the hospital.”