Charity spotlight: Shriners Hospital Dads

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.

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.

Thanks to a sizeable donation from the PCCC a year ago, the Shriners Hospital Dads now have something they can count on weekly – a 15-seat passenger van, complete with the PCCC logo emblazoned on its outside panels.

The van symbolizes all the great donations over the years to the PCCC, which has raised almost $13 million for Ozarks-area children’s charities in the past 26 years. And now here is your chance to help again.

“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 eighth 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.”

About the Shriner’s Hospital Dads

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

For the Shriners 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. Regardless of a family’s financial situation, the Dads transport the family and 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 99 trips alone.

“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.”

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, includes the PCCC logo.

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.

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 2016 Ford F-150 truck.

“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.”

RISING STARS, RAISING HOPES

BUSINESS SPONSORSHIPS: Businesses also can support the PCCC through various sponsorships, such as the skyboxes on the 9th and 18th greens (with food badges), on-course signage and events such as a dozen Pro-Ams. Businesses also can donate a gift card with at least a $25 value in the name of your charity of choice to benefit them in the Golf Ball & Charity Auction presented by Copy Products, Inc. and University Plaza.

The Ultimate sponsorship means air-conditioned seating on the 18th green and a chance to win a Corvette Stingray.
The Ultimate sponsorship means air-conditioned seating on the 18th green and a chance to win a Corvette Stingray.

WIN A NEW TRUCK: The purchase of a $25 TLC Properties Charity Sweepstakes ticket can win one of 500 daily gift cards as well as grand prizes of $10,000 and a 2016 Ford F-150 XLT. It’s also good for a four-day tournament pass.

Win this truck
Win this truck or $10,000 in the TLC Properties Charity Sweepstakes.

SEE THE FUTURE OF THE PGA TOUR: The PCCC is from Aug. 5-15, with the pros beginning play on Aug. 11 at Highland Springs Country Club. For tickets or other ways to assist, call the Price Cutter Charity Championship staff at 417-887-3400.

Dawie vander Walt shows his winners trophy after the final round of the Price Cutter Charity Championship at Highland Springs Country Club in Springfield on August 16, 2015.
Dawie vander Walt won the 2015 PCCC. (Photo courtesy of StidzMedia)