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Shriners International

What is Shriners international?

Shriners International is a fraternal organization. Shriners are members of Shriners International founded in New York City in 1872, our fraternity is based on fun, fellowship and the Masonic principles of brotherly love, relief and truth.

 

The original goal of the fraternity, which continues today, is to promote fun and fellowship while looking beyond ourselves to give back to children in need.



While members enjoy the fraternity's fun and fellowship, they are also deeply committed to their philanthropy, Shriners Hospitals for Children.

Shriners International founded Shriners Hospitals for Children as its official philanthropy in 1922. What began as one hospital is now a world-renowned health care system with permanent locations in three countries and additional patient connections through outreach clinics and telehealth sites around the world. Nearly 100 years after its founding, the fraternity continues to support Shriners Hospitals for Children, which provides pediatric specialty care, regardless of the families' ability to pay. 

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The story of the  
“Editorial Without Words”

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The photo known as the “Editorial Without Words” is probably one of the best-recognized symbols of Shriners Children's, yet it was taken almost by accident. Randy Dieter, the photographer, recalled that in 1970, he had been on assignment covering Hadi Temple’s annual outing for handicapped children at the now-defunct Mesker Amusement Park in Evansville, Indiana.

“I was taking shots of the midway and was using my telephoto lens”, Dieter said. “ I saw a local Shriner walking by carrying a little girl in one hand and her crutches in the other. My camera wouldn’t fire. Then they were too close for my lens. I ran past them, but the camera jammed. I had to take my last shot as they walked by. It was the end of the roll. If I had to think about it, I wouldn’t have come up with something like that. Fate guides you."

“It still seems unreal,” said Bobbi Jo Wright, the little girl in the photo. “I have many wonderful memories of the years I was a patient at the St. Louis Shriners Hospital and remember all the fun activities. I was born with cerebral palsy, which resulted in many orthopedic problems that made walking difficult. I had many surgeries at the St. Louis Hospital. They greatly improved my ability to walk.”

Bobbi Jo received her B.A. in English from Anderson University. She is active in her church and teaches Sunday School. “I use a cane when I go shopping,” she said. If I’m walking on grassy areas, I use crutches.”

Today, the famous photo is an integral part of the logo for Shriners Children's and has been reproduced on stained glass windows, mosaics, tie tacks, pins, and statues. A larger-than-life replica of the “Editorial Without Words” stands outside the Shriners International Headquarters building in Tampa, Florida.

The Shriner who was unexpectedly immortalized carrying Bobby Jo was Noble Al Hortman, formerly of Evansville, Indiana and now living in Georgia. On the right is the original photo.

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The Mission of Shriners International

  • Be the premier fraternal organization for men of good character

  • Provide attractive, quality programs and services for its members, their families, and their friends in a spirit of fun, fellowship and social camaraderie.

  • Foster self-improvement through leadership, education and the perpetuation of moral values and community involvement.

  • Serve mankind through the resources of its philanthropy, Shriners Hospital for Children.

Every July, Shriners from around the world come together for their annual business meeting, known as Imperial Session.  During the week-long event, held in a different host city each year, members meet to discuss and vote on business matters of Shriners International and Shriners Hospitals for Children®. The fraternity also hosts a variety of family-friendly events that are open to the public, including a  parade, which is the world’s largest Shriners parade of the year. The week ends with the installation of the new Imperial Potentate (CEO) of Shriners International. 

Imperial Session

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Imperial Divans

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The Imperial Divan is the international governing body of Shriners International. The governing body works as a corporate Board of Directors and consists of 12 officers, each of whom is elected to the lowest position on the Divan and moves up one position each year, with the exception of the Imperial Treasurer and Imperial Recorder.

 

The highest leadership position within Shriners International is Imperial Potentate. The Imperial Potentate is both president and chief executive officer of Shriners International, and is elected for a one-year term. He spends his year in office visiting many of the Shriner temples (chapters), attending regional meetings and visiting Shriners Hospitals for Children® locations. He also serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors for both Shriners Hospitals for Children and Shriners International.

 

A similar organizational structure is followed at the local level within each temple around the world.

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