Ansar Shrine CircusShriners International’s mission includes serving mankind through the Shriners Hospitals for Children. As the mom of a child who receives care at one of these hospitals, I got curious as to “What is a Shriner” and “What do they do to be able to provide free service to so many families?”

I didn’t have to go too far to get the answers. Two of my colleagues, Andy Roselle and Josh Ishmael, are Shriners, as is Hope McKenzie’s husband Mike.

Step Back

I asked each of the INB-connected Shriners to tell me why they became Shriners. Both Josh, INB’s senior vice president and general counsel, and Andy, a senior vice president and commercial lender, say it was a family thing. Josh’s grandfather and father were Shriners, and Andy’s grandfather was. Mike had a different reason for becoming a member.  He says, “I became an Ansar Shriner because I was a patient at the St. Louis location over a 12-year period (1963-1975) to correct a form of Cerebral Palsy in which braces, physical therapy and surgery were required to repair both Achilles Tendons to be able to walk.” He’s been a member since 1994.

Mike, whose wife Hope is a loan servicing specialist at INB, says he’s held many posts with the Shriners, but has really enjoyed his role in working with 4th graders in Virginia, Ill. As part of the effort, Mike shows a video to the kids, then takes part in a question and answer session. Afterwards, the students hold a fundraiser. Thanks to his efforts and a great job by the kids, these 4th graders have raised about $43,000 since 1994 for the St. Louis Shriners Hospital.

Josh says it only takes one visit to a Shriner’s Hospital to see the immediate impact of raising funds. All medical care is provided for free.  He adds, “My grandfather was a big supporter of the hospitals, and assisted several families seeking access to the hospitals for their children’s care.”

That Brings us to the Circus

One of the Shriners’ major fundraisers is the Ansar Shrine Circus. This year’s circus is being held at the Springfield Convention Center Nov. 9, 10 and 11.

  • Friday – 7:00 p.m. only
  • Saturday – 11:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
  • Sunday – 11:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m.

You can once again buy tickets at any INB branch in Sangamon County:

  • 322 E. Capitol Ave.
  • 2601 Chatham Road
  • 3150 W. Wabash Ave.
  • 2849 South Sixth St.
  • 2450 North Dirksen Pkwy
  • Pleasant Plains - 106 W. Main St.
  • Chatham - 100 E. Plummer Blvd.
  • Riverton – 409 N. Seventh St.
Mike McKenzie, Ansar Shriner

Mike McKenzie with grandchildren

Isabella and Braeden.

Mike says he has memories of attending the circus growing up.  “Then, as a member, when I was younger, I took tickets at the door.  My daughters, when they were younger, helped me sell popcorn in the bleacher seats.  My arthritis won’t let me stand too long or run up and down the bleachers so I purchase my allotment of tickets and give them away to people who will use them.”

Both Andy and Josh have young children. Josh says, “We take our children every year and enjoy tracking down all of the circus clowns to get their autographs on the Shrine Circus coloring book.”

Shriners about Fellowship and Service

Josh says that while the hospitals are a critical part of the Shrine Mission, there’s much more. He compares the group to his job in banking.  “Banking is about people and relationships, and the Shrine promotes fraternity and fellowship.  Shriners meet, interact, and entertain to raise funds for their key philanthropic mission, the Shriners Hospitals. Banks work best when their employees work as a team, and I think the most successful efforts to achieve goals like those set by the Shriners also work best when their membership work as a unit or team, the Shrine Circus, for example, is a team effort from eager volunteers.”

Josh continues, “Shriners are freemasons, and freemasons can join the Shrine once they complete the level of Master Mason in their local Masonic lodge.  If Master Mason’s are interested in joining a Shrine temple, they should ask a current Shriner to support and sponsor their application.  See, a web resource from Shriners International.