Shriners raise record amount for hospitals
By Steve Herring
Published in News on October 24, 2010 1:50 AM
George Raecher of the Wayne County Shrine Club plays with Megan Sutton, while older sister Samantha, looks on. Megan was treated at a Shriners' hospital for a disease that attacked her spinal cord.
DUDLEY -- Three-year-old Megan Sutton giggled and squealed with laughter as she zipped around the room at full speed in her wheelchair, sometimes with a little help from big sister Samantha.
Her youthful exuberance was a fitting testimony for why people had gathered Thursday night at the Wayne Shrine Club -- to express appreciation to those who helped the club pull off its most successful fish fry in memory and the work being done by children's hospitals that the event supports
The recent fish fry raised about $25,000 for the hospitals, but it was much more than just about money.
Thanks to publicity about the Shriners Hospitals another child could soon be receiving free treatment at one of the hospitals.
Megan, the daughter of Chad and Leigh Ann Sutton of Seven Springs, was only 7 months old when she was struck with transverse myelitis, a neurological in which the autoimmune system attacks the spinal cord and interrupts nerve flow and causes lesions on the spinal cord. The spinal cord swells and damages the sheath around it.
She was treated at Shriners' Hospitals in Greenville, S.C. and Philadelphia, Pa.
"Let them go. Good gracious look at that," Shrine Club President Tom Ferrell said to a round of applause as Megan moved around the room. "I don't believe there is that much wrong with that girl."
"That's my girl," Sutton said. "We appreciate everything that the Shriners have done for us. I know all of you read the article in the paper this has been going on since May 28 of 2008. (Shriner) George (Raecher) came to me that summer and wanted to talk to Megan. We got the paperwork done. One of the things that I was amazed at was when we got to the hospital they greeted us with open arms.
"They took their time. It was just a wonderful experience. The hospital was beautiful. They put us in a motel room. On behalf of myself and Leigh Ann we would like to tell the Shriners thank you and continue the good work."
Ferrell said he didn't have but two words for volunteers who helped with the cub's recent fish fry, "Thank you. Thank you. Thank you."
"I am going to tell you that this Shrine Club put a lot of hard work and effort into this past fish fry, but we sure didn't do it alone and without the help of the volunteers," he said. "Folks there is no way we could have put this project on and it be as successful as it turned out. I don't know what else to say but thank you. We appreciate it and we hope you will keep us in mind in the future."
"We have two of these a year. This past fish fry is the most successful fish fry that we have had, I know, in almost 25 years. Our gross in terms of dollars, we did over $40,000 worth of business in one day. Out of that $40,000 when we take out expenses we are going to send the Shriners Hospitals almost $25,000."
Ferrell, said club members enjoy a lot of fun, fellowship and joking, but that the one thing they are serious about are the children's hospitals.
"The success of it (fish fry) is attributed not only to our patrons, but to our volunteers," Ferrell said. "We also appreciate the media, Wayne Alley of WGBR and Steve Herring of the Goldsboro News-Argus. I don't know if you had the opportunity to read the News-Argus before the fish fry, but Steve wrote a fine article and spoke to two of our hospital children right here in Wayne County.
"Steve does not like to attract a lot of attention to himself, but wrote a fine article and we (Shriners) have talked about it many time since then and we contribute a lot of our success to that article. I told Steve about a week ago and I would like to tell you that even though the fish fry itself was the success that it was, even if we hadn't made one dime, it was worth it because from that article, directly from that article, I got a telephone call from a potential patient who had never heard of the Shriners and didn't know anything about the Shriners."
The calls concerned an 11- or 12-year-old boy who lives with a guardian. He has an orthopedic situation where one leg is about four inches shorter than the other, Ferrell said.
Ferrell said the process had not startedyet, but that he is hoping to get the application started so the youth can at least be assessed to see what the hospital can do.
Currently, 30 Wayne County children are being helped through the hospitals.
Ferrell said the club's spring fish fry was also successful, but did not reach the fall numbers. The spring fish fry does benefit the hospitals some, but for most part the funds are used for local charities or upkeep of the Shrine Club building.
And Ferrell reminded those attending that the building can be rented and meals catered.
Ferrell said he had spoken to a man several weeks ago whose next-door neighbor had a 15-year-old child who suffered scoliosis. Treatment probably spent $100,000.
"If you know of a child anywhere, it doesn't have to be Wayne County, anywhere," Ferrell said. "If you know of a child who could benefit from our hospitals in the form of orthopedics, or burns or cleft palates please, please get in touch with a Shriner. If you can't get in touch with one go online. It costs absolutely nothing to the children or the family."
For more information about the hospitals, call Ferrell at 919-223-2301 or Raecher at 919-394-3379 or 778-4124.