BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER)-- The Shriner Clowns try use laughter as a way to raise money for the families of children suffering from serious illnesses and disabilities. The Shriners have 22 hospitals throughout the country- the closest ones to Maine are in Springfield and Boston, Massachusetts. However, today the Anah Temple Shriners held their annual Orthopedics Screening Day at Eastern Maine Medical Center to reduce the travel distance for local children in need.
"Probably before I turned 14 I would go almost twice a year. It's about six hours from my house so it's a long ways."
Twenty year old Kyle McKim of Trenton Maine is a veteran Shriner kid- he's been going to the Shriner hospital since his leg had to be amputated at 10 months old. As he played sports growing up, he constantly needed a new prosthetic. But the closest Shriner Hospital to him is in Springfield, Massachusetts. That's why the Shriner's partnership with Eastern Maine Medical Center really helps.
"We had a cause. We have to have a cause and this is our project," said Robert Turner, a Shriner who helped organize the Orthopedics Screening Day.
The Shriners of the Anah Shrine Temple hold an Orthopedics Screening Day at EMMC once a year. They made it their mission to help children with disabilities and their families by easing the financial burden of medical treatment. Many of the children they help in Maine have orthopedic problems or amputations. Going to EMMC for their annual check ups helps cut hours out of their travel time.
"It saves them the trip, the time at the hotel, and all the mileage," said Turner.
And of course the Shriner Clowns are always on site to provide a healthy dose of laughter.
The Shriners say they want to help children and young adults with their physical handicaps by providing medical care and funding for the prosthetics that help them move around. But Kyle says they give him much more than that- they give him confidence by seeing him as a person, and not someone with a disability.
"It helps being able to do all these physical activities, but it also helps with, I guess you could say mental and social difficulties that may arise as well... I think it's just a certain breed of people that are able to work at the Shriners Hospital," Kyle said.