GALLIPOLIS — The Gallipolis Shrine Club kicked off its annual fundraising efforts with a spaghetti dinner Saturday evening.
The club also took the opportunity to recognize two local businesses for their efforts in helping the organization fulfill its mission and two area churches that have financially supported the club.
The local club transports children from Gallia, Meigs and Lawrence counties to Shriners Hospitals for Children in Cincinnati and Lexington. Over the last year club members, known as Roadrunners, have logged over 163,000 miles delivering children for free services provided by Shriners Hospitals.
Two local companies, Norris Northrup Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep and Gallia Auto Sales, provide vehicles, usually a van, to Roadrunners at no cost. Per Shriner Guy Guinther, “The only thing they ask is that we fill the gas tank back up.”
A typical trip involved Shriners, two members are required for each trip, picking a child and a parent or guardian up at the home and transporting them to either the hospital in Cincinnati or Lexington.
The club also took the opportunity to recognize two churches who have been supporters of Shriner efforts over the years.
Salem Center Methodist Church and Mount Zion Baptist Church have combined to donate more than $25,000 over the last eight years.
This year’s kickoff dinner included a guest speaker.
Katie Dowdy, a native of Jackson County, is a college recruiter who travels abroad recruiting foreign students to U.S. colleges and universities. She was also the beneficiary of Shriners’ services as a youngster.
Dowdy was born with club feet. Through the services of a Shriners Hospital, her feet were corrected and much therapy that included learning how to walk all over again. And, she told the 60-plus in attendance, this was all provided to Dowdy and her family at no cost.
The club was treated to its dinner by Mary Searls, who serve as regular cooks for the club’s monthly meeting. Searls and her crew bought, prepared and served the club and its guests their meal Saturday evening to show her appreciation for Shriners.
Last year the Gallipolis Shrine Club, part of the Aladdin Temple of Columbus, raised more than $23,000 for Shriners hospitals.