Last updateFri, 05 Sep 2014 1pm

Legion Labor Day bash benefits Shrine Club patients

American Legion Post 7 put a new twist on this year’s Labor Day celebration, turning the September 1 event into a fund-raising bash for the Lake Chapala Shrine Club (LCSC).

The crowd of guests contributed to a noble cause while enjoying an all-American lunch menu of BBQ ribs, potato salad, coleslaw, corn bread and homemade pies.

Event chairman John Pence reports that the proceeds from ticket sales, raffles and donation totaled 11,603 pesos, all destined for the transportation fund utilized to cover travel and incidental expenses for local children who require specialized medical treatment at the Shriners Hospital in Mexico City.

With just 39 active members, the LCSC is tiny in comparison to Shrine Clubs in the United States and Canada, but huge in terms of the assistance it provides to youngsters afflicted by severe burns, orthopedic and spinal defects, cleft lip and palate and other physical disabilities.

Since 2006, LCSC has raised close to two million pesos to aid more than 1,000 children. Last year alone the organization spent 394,502 pesos in benefit of 179 patients, including 95 who were sent to Mexico City for medical intervention. Fund-raising activities include the regular Dine with Shrine lunch gatherings at local restaurants, the annual Rib Fest held in March and this summer’s first-time invitational golf tournament.

According to local Shriner Graham Paull, who sits on the hospital board, the Mexico City facility is one of the busiest of the 22 Shrine hospitals located worldwide. A highly qualified team of doctors attends to approximately 5,000 patients and more than 350 surgical cases every month, with services provided free of charge. Experts there also also make prostheses and corrective devices specially designed for individual needs. Children suffering severe burn injuries and skin ailments are sent to the acclaimed Shriners Hospital in Galveston, Texas.

While most of the pediatric patients supported by LCSC are treated for orthopedic problems, members of the group go the extra mile to help youngsters with more unusual needs. Paull and his wife Sheila were instrumental in getting care for Christian de la Cruz, a boy from San Juan Tecomatlán who was born without ears. They not only arranged for cochlear implants at the Montreal Shriners Hospital to give him the gift of hearing, but also accompanied the lad and his family on two trips to Canada required to complete the procedures.