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posted Mar 23, 2017, 7:11 PM by Bruce Kundert   [ updated Mar 23, 2017, 7:14 PM ]
Chairman's Message - Shriners Hospitals for Children

Dear Fellow Nobles,

I have been truly blessed to have had the opportunity to serve on the Joint Boards for more than 11 years, and to serve you as your Imperial Potentate. I am humbled and honored to be entrusted with the responsibilities and challenges that come with being elected president and serving as the chairman of the board of trustees at Imperial Session this past July.
Thank you for your confidence in me, and your commitment and dedication to the mission of our unique health care system. I will do all that I can to strengthen and improve Shriners Hospitals, and to keep you informed of new developments. Working together, and keeping our focus on what is best for the children and families we serve, we can accomplish great things this Imperial Year.
I also want to thank everyone who made the effort to be in Tampa, Florida, for our Imperial Session, both the voting representatives, and those who simply came to share in the brotherhood and camaraderie that is such an important part of being a Shriner. We truly are a huge, global family and it is wonderful when we all gather together and share that experience.
Something else we should all share is pride in the accomplishments of Shriners Hospitals, and in our commitment to our patients and families, including doing everything we can to help them realize their potential and believe in their dreams, despite the physical difficulties they face and overcome every day.

The 2016 summer Paralympics just ended. The dedication and effort it takes for anyone to reach this level is practically incomprehensible; everyone who participated is amazing and deserves to be applauded. It was our great honor to watch and cheer as some of our patients and former patients competed at these games. We congratulate Hunter Woodhall, a patient of our Salt Lake City hospital and member of the US men’s Paralympic track team, for winning a silver medal in the 200-meter sprint, and a bronze in the 400-meter competition. Hunter, 17, was the youngest athlete in his class at the games. We also congratulate Brian
Bell, a former patient of our Greenville hospital, and member of the US men’s wheelchair basketball team, for the team’s gold medal win. Other patients or former patients who competed in the 2016 Paralympics include swimmers Dalton Herendeen and Natalie Sims.
We are pleased to have been able to do our part in providing these amazing individuals, and in fact, all of our patients, with the treatment and expertise to help them discover their potential – and go on to achieve wonderful things.

Whether it is any of a range of therapies, a surgical intervention, creation of a prosthetic or orthotic device, our staff knows what kind of treatment to offer, believes change and improvement is possible, and expends the time and effort to do the best they can for every child that comes to us for care and treatment. In addition to medical excellence and expertise, our amazing staff also provides reassurance, builds confidence and instills hope, which, in turn, strengthens and sustains our patients’ determination and resilience. And, as shown by these amazing athletes, changes lives.
The opportunity to participate in sports can go a long way in helping children discover and develop many skills and strengths that can help them throughout their lives.
Sports activities and events can also bring people together and increase awareness of organizations, through both media attention and player and spectator participation. For this reason, Shriners Hospitals for Children® has strengthened and expanded its national signature events. In addition to raising awareness, these events bring the members of Shriners International together for fun and fellowship, opportunities to share the fraternity’s story with potential new members, and to support their fraternity.
One of those events – the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open – will be held in Las Vegas, Nevada, Oct. 31-Nov 6 at TPC Summerlin. Last year’s event had a record attendance of 37,500. We’re looking forward to another great tournament, and increasing attendance and awareness even more. Many of the top professional golfers in the world participate in this competition, and, in the process, support the mission of Shriners Hospitals for Children.

During the tournament, several of our patients will be on hand to share their stories and participate in various ways. Both of our National Patient Ambassadors will be in attendance, and there will also be patient ambassadors representing various Shriners Hospitals locations as standard bearers. Also featured during the tournament will be 5-year-old patient and golf prodigy, Tommy Morrissey, the first child with a limb difference to qualify for the U.S. Kids Golf World Championship. These children are a powerful representation of the hope and healing provided by Shriners Hospitals for Children – we are proud of them, and thank them for their hard work and invaluable contribution to this event.
In addition to supporting our health care system, this annual event is also very important to Shriners International, and provides countless opportunities for our Shriners to come together to participate in fun and fellowship, share their stories with the rest of the world, and raise interest to attract potential new members.
We want to acknowledge and thank all our amazing volunteers, including many Shriners and their family members, for dedicating their time and energy to the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open year after year - it is because of your hard work, dedication and passion that this event has become so successful, and we thank you for your effort and commitment.
Last year, more than 300 nobles (and family members) representing approximately 35 temples volunteered, and we want to especially acknowledge their support and commitment, and invite you to volunteer, as well. We know you’ll have an amazing time. There is a fee to volunteer, but it’s more than worth it. To learn more please visit
Another critically important signature event is the East-West Shrine Game®, the longest-running collegiate all-star football game in the country. The 2016 game attracted 23,106 fans to the stands – our biggest attendance yet at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. The East-West Shrine Game generates massive exposure and interest in both Shriners Hospitals for Children and Shriners International, and is one of our most important traditions. The 2017 game will be played on Jan. 21, again at Tropicana Field. In addition to the game itself, there is an incredible pre-game tailgate event that you don’t want to miss! There are also various special ticket packages especially for Shriners. Please visit Shriners Village for more information, or call the game office at 813-281-8686. The East-West Shrine Game is for everyone – we’d love to see you in the stands!

In 2015, we added to these established signature events by forming a partnership with the Houston Astros Foundation that includes a multi-year agreement renaming the Houston College Classic. The well-established and well-known regional baseball tournament is now the Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic. The College Classic is considered one of the top college-level baseball tournaments in the country. Having our name as part of this prestigious event, which is televised both nationally and regionally, is another outstanding opportunity to raise awareness of our amazing health care system. In addition to helping with name recognition, there is also a financial benefit - a portion of proceeds from ticket sales are given to Shriners Hospitals. The 2017 Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic will feature three Big 12 schools – Baylor, TCU and Texas Tech – and three Southeastern Conference programs in LSU, Ole Miss and Texas A&M. The 17th annual tournament will feature nine games at Minute Maid Park in Houston March 3-5, 2017.

We look forward to seeing many of you in Houston In support of this new and exciting venture.
These three signature events are all televised nationally, and the Open is also shown internationally, giving us entry into countless homes and establishments, and a tremendous opportunity to introduce our organizations and our mission to a huge number of potentially interested parties. In the coming weeks and months, please support these events – and have a great time enjoying a favorite sport, while helping your fraternity and philanthropy.

I also want to acknowledge the many local and regional sports programs presented by our temples – these events are equally valuable and important to the future of our organizations and we greatly appreciate all the work that is done at the local level to ensure their success and popularity, as well.
Finally, I want to thank you again for allowing me to serve you as the chairman of our health care system. I look forward to working with you, hearing your suggestions and concerns, and to our making a difference together. The most important thing we need to remember as we face the future is our promise to do everything we can to improve the lives of the patients and families who depend on us.
Yours in the faith,

Imperial Sir, Jerry G. Gantt
President and Chairman of the Board of Trustees
Shriners Hospitals for Children