The international health care system of 22 hospitals started in Shreveport, La., in 1922 to help children with polio. Over the years, Shriners Hospitals for Children expanded its care specialties to include orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries and cleft lip and palate. Children up to the age of 18 are eligible for care at Shriners Hospitals for Children if, in the opinion of their physicians, there is a reasonable possibility they can benefit from the services available. There is no financial obligation to patients or their families for treatment provided within Shriners Hospitals for Children facilities. “There’s no case we would turn the child down if we were able to help [the child],” says Jones.
The health care system provides pediatric specialty care, innovative research and outstanding teaching programs. In the past 87 years, Shriners Hospitals for Children has improved the lives of more than 865,000 children, including many local kids at their Tampa location on the University of South Florida campus. “It’s such a great charity, and that was one of the things that interested me, knowing what the Shrine did to help children,” Jones says of the health care system. At Shriners Hospital for Children, kids are given more than just care and kindness, they are given a future.
Jones, who uses a wheelchair himself, has been known to have wheelchair races with some of the kids. “I usually mosey up alongside of them and challenge them to a race and sometimes we have some good races in there. I usually let them win, but not by much,” he explains. “I feel that a wheelchair only may be binding to
a person as to what they let it be.”
Prior to becoming elected as an Imperial officer, Jones served on the Elected Divan (Board of the Directors) of Egypt Shriners in Tampa. He has been serving on the Board of Directors for Shriners International as well as Shriners Hospital for Children since 1979, and remained an Imperial officer for 30 years prior to his election
as Imperial Potentate. He has worked as the Director of Membership and Masonic Relations at the Shriners International Headquarters in Tampa since 1981. In 2006, he earned the highest honor in the Shriners fraternity, the Imperial Potentate’s Award of Merit.
To find out more about Shriners International or Shriners Hospital for Children, visit http://www.shrinershq.org/.