Road Runners Pave the Way for Children in Need

by | May 2024

ON A DRIZZLY Friday afternoon many years ago, my then 5-year-old son fell on our trampoline and suffered a terrible break that affected his growth plate right above his ankle. The tiny rural hospital’s staff near our home did their best to make him comfortable. Still, in the area of Louisiana where we lived, pediatric orthopedic doctors were scarce, and even those within an hour’s drive refused our insurance. 

When our pediatrician called a few days later to say they’d scheduled an appointment for our son at Shriners Children’s in Shreveport, we were overwhelmed with gratitude. Especially because 10 years prior, another hospital that is also affiliated with the fraternal order of Freemasonry, Scottish Rite Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, had performed emergency surgery on our oldest son when he was only 3. This surgery, coupled with three weeks of intensive inpatient therapy, had saved his life. 

As we carried our son through the doors of Shriners Children’s in Shreveport, friendly attendants greeted us, and the facilities were cheerful and inviting to our children. Later that summer, our son graduated from a wheelchair to a walker and then learned to walk on his own with the help of orthopedic therapists. X-rays confirmed he wouldn’t need surgery to shorten his “good” leg to make it match the length of the leg that was so severely broken. 

As the hospital faded from our rearview mirror for the last time, relief flooded my soul. When your child is hurt, and you’re powerless to take away their pain, a helplessness greater than yourself finds you. But knowing that my child was in the capable hands of medical staff, paired with the relief that our mailbox wouldn’t be flooded with bills, eased my fears quicker than the best salve money could buy.

The Shriners Children’s in Shreveport opened in 1922 and was the very first. Formally known as Shriners Hospital for Children, the network has now expanded to 22 nonprofit medical facilities across the United States, Canada, and Mexico and has helped over 1.5 million children in the last 100 years. In 2022 alone, 140,000 children with various conditions, such as burns, spinal cord injuries, cleft lip and palate, and various orthopedic needs, received specialized care.

But what about children who don’t live close to a facility? A group of men from Lynchburg Shrine Club, known as “Road Runners,” have made it their mission to chauffeur local children who have been burned to the Shriners Children’s in Cincinnati, Ohio, over 400 miles away. They also volunteer to drive children and their parents who have other medical needs to the Greenville, South Carolina location, approximately 300 miles away.

“No man stands as tall as when he stoops to help a child” is their motto, which has been used over the last century by the entire Shriners organization. These mostly retired volunteers use their own vehicles and even provide the gas to ensure these children and their parents arrive at their appointments safely.

John Saville, a native of Lynchburg, is one of these men. 

“I am a local business owner, married with three grown children, and I’m actively involved in my community through numerous civic, charitable, and professional organizations. I’ve held several leadership positions in different groups, and I’m dedicated to my family, business, and our local community. I strive daily to improve myself and my community. 

“Being a Shrine Clown and entertaining the families while also bringing support for the children’s hospital is what I enjoy most. The Shriners of Lynchburg are here to help children and their families during a time that, for many of them, is the worst thing they’ve ever experienced, and we do it at no cost to them,” expressed Saville.

When Saville was younger, he admired other men who were involved with the Shriners International organization, and longed to be a part of a well-established group that provided social interactions that made the community a better place to live for everyone.

“The fraternal organization for men in the Lynchburg area strives to provide programs and services for our members, their families, and their friends through fellowship opportunities that increase social camaraderie. We also serve others through our commitment to Shriners Children’s, a resource for medical care and intervention.”

Our children are our future. When we do for the least among us, we all become stronger together. The Road Runners are doing their part to make sure every child has access to the healing hands at Shriners Children’s. GN

More Good News

Edison2 and the Very Light Car

Edison2 and the Very Light Car

RECORD-BREAKING INVENTIONS are not common, and Lynchburg is proud to be home to one such invention: the Edison2 Very Light Car. Nearly 15 years ago, Lynchburg found itself on the national stage...

read more
Recipes: Fuel for Focus

Recipes: Fuel for Focus

RISE AND shine to breakfasts that fuel minds and bodies alike! Celebrate the power of wholesome, delicious meals to kickstart learning and energize young students. We’ll dish up recipes packed with...

read more
Faith: Just as You Are

Faith: Just as You Are

FOR OVER 30 years, children’s television host Mister Rogers came into the homes of millions via our television sets and told us something we should never forget.  “I like you just the way you...

read more