Shriners fundraising legacy continues
November 20, 2023, 9:19 am
Ryan Kiedrowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
It was another wildly successful fundraiser for the Moosomin Shrine Club on Nov. 10 at the Moosomin Conexus Centre, highlighted with entertainment courtesy JJ Voss and his Damn Good Band, Lachlan Neville and the Kelly Brothers.
Before the entertainment hit the stage, Moosomin Shire president Leo Ilustrisimo shone the spotlight on a few families the club has assisted recently in their journeys through the medical system.
Ilustrisimo first spoke of the David and Trina Marcus family, who the Shriners were able to help send their daughter, Riley, to a specialist at the Shriners Hospital in Montreal.
“We first met Riley in May of 2023,” Ilustrisimo explained. “We were approached by Mrs. Megan McMillan, because they were in need of a wagon to transport one of the students. We found out that Riley had Prader-Willi syndrome, which is a deletion in the Chromosome 15, which her body does not process the nutrients from the food that she needs.”
He noted that at the time the Shriners were approached, Riley was feeling very weak and lethargic.
“The teachers approached us if we would be interested in donating a special wagon for Riley and of course, our Shriners, we did our best to accommodate that request,” Ilustrisimo said.
The Shane and Nicolette McMullan family also received help from the Shriners for their sons Calloway and Liam. Ilustrisimo explained that the club first met the Mcmullan’s in 2019 when the Shriners were able to send Calloway to the Shriners Hospital in Chicago in 2020.
“Then a couple years later, Liam was born and he had the same condition as his brother,” Ilustrisimo said.
“He had a cleft palate and in May, 2022, both Calloway and Liam had to go to Toronto Sick Kids hospital for a surgery and we did our best to help this young family.”
Ilustrisimo explained how expenses incurred by the families during hospital visits are paid for by the Wa Wa Shrine Patient Transportation Fund. This covers costs such as accommodations or airfare, which can be quite costly for families seeking treatment.
“We maintain constant communication with all these families, inviting them to our meetings and activities,” Ilustrisimo said. “And we keep in touch with them all the time. If there’s a need will arise, the Shriners are here to help them out.”
Levi Jamieson’s story
One family was on-hand to share their experience with how the Shriners helped them navigate the hospital system. Levi Jamieson was involved in an ATV accident and lost the use of his legs as a result.
“On Oct. 18, 2020, a new chapter of Levi’s life journey began,” explained brother Kelsey Jamieson. “In a matter of few hours, he was in Moosomin hospital, then in a STARS helicopter, off to Regina General Hospital for a CT scan.
The stop in Regina would prove to be brief as Levi was then transported by air ambulance to the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital in Saskatoon.
“Levi was in an induced coma and treated for his traumatic brain injury,” continued Kelsey. “Once the doctors felt he was stable enough, he was sent for an MRI, which resulted in them finding a back injury requiring surgery.”
During that surgery, a plate and screws were used to stabilize a fracture between Levi’s T8 and T9 vertebrae. He was then moved to the Wascana Rehabilitation Centre in Regina.
“He was in a pretty big rush to get home and even convinced the doctors to give him a weekend pass so that Mom, Dad and Levi could head home for deer hunting,” Kelsey said. “With the family’s help, Levi got a deer and boy, was he ever happy! At this time, Levi realized that nothing was gonna stop him from doing the things he loved.”
Soon after that weekend outing, a COVID-19 outbreak hit the rehabilitation centre, giving Levi the option of either staying in his room or being discharged to return home.
“He couldn’t get packed and loaded fast enough and hit the road,” Kelsey said of the easy decision.
In January of 2021, the Jamieson family was contacted by the Moosomin Shriners, who offered their help with future assistance regarding Levi’s spinal cord injury.
“This was simply amazing, and we were soon put in contact with the Shriners Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,” Kelsey said.
The first visit to the Philadelphia Shriners Hospital was from May 24 to June 4, 2021, where Levi met with a spinal cord specialist, the director of rehabilitation and a physiotherapist.
“During this visit, they measured him for KAFOs which are knee, ankle and foot orthotics, that go from Levi’s foot to his hip,” explained Kelsey. “They also hinge and lock at the knee.”
The next trip to Philadelphia was later that year when Levi received the KAFOs and learned how to use them.
“Trip number three to Philadelphia was in December of 2022,” Kelsey said.
“This trip included physiotherapist visits and surgery for Botox injections to help with the tone of Levi’s legs. They also fitted him for a wheelchair and we are planning to go down and pick it up in December/January this year.”
A slideshow was presented during the fundraiser including images of Levi advancing through physiotherapy sessions, which Kelsey alluded to during his time at the podium.
“Our Shriners experience has been absolutely incredible,” Kelsey said on behalf of the Jamieson family. “We are so very grateful for all the help, love and support from our Shriners family. Friends, family and small town community - there’s nothing more special!”
A grateful Levi was also present with a message of thankfulness to all those involved in his healing journey.
“From the bottom of my heart, I want to sincerely thank the Shriners tonight and each person, family, business, and organization that has crossed my path and supported me on my journey,” Levi said. “Please know that I’m truly grateful. I’ve said this before, but I want everybody to know that with determination, love and support, anything is possible. My thoughts are that being in a wheelchair is not a disability, it’s an ability to do things differently. Thank you.”
Moosomin Shriners active in the community
There were also some donations that the Moosomin Shriners made recently, including to the Machniak family after young Koby was involved in a motocross accident over the summer. Kennedy Langevin of Elkhorn was another donation recipient after her accident while riding a horse, and the Shriners also donated to the Terry Lynd basketball court.
“All of this would have not been possible without the hard work of all the nobles and ladies of the Moosomin Shrine Club and of course we need continued support of the community to our fundraising events,” Ilustrisimo said.
The annual fall concert is the largest fundraiser for the Moosomin Shriners, and while the final numbers have not been confirmed, an estimated $10,000 was raised during the event. Other fundraising efforts include selling calendars and the annual Rose Day (this year, selling 600 dozen roses).
Many people associate the Shriners with those small cars zipping along during a parade, and the Moosomin chapter was quite active in this pursuit throughout the year.
“This year, we attended five parades,” Ilustrisimo noted. “We were in in Brandon, Moosomin, Indian Head, Elkhorn and Carlyle.
Participating in the go-cart patrol always sparks joy for both attendees and participants.
“We do this to bring smiles to children’s faces,” Ilustrisimo said. “And of course we enjoy driving those go-karts!”