The Port Arthur News
PORT ARTHUR —
James Self sat atop a 50cc Honda mini-bike inside a trailer and rode it down a wooden plank, the mid-morning sun already beaming steadily down.
He led the bike next to a row of identical bikes in the parking lot at the former site of Sutherland’s on FM 365 right as a woman driving a truck pulled up to ask what was going on Tuesday.
Self, along with Brad Corley, explained they are members of the Mid-Jefferson County Shrine Club and they were preparing to ride the mini-bikes to Galveston.
The woman was flabbergasted that a total of seven men would make the hours long trip on the tiny bikes and wished them good luck.
The Galveston trip is the club’s second annual trek to Galveston, headquarters of the El Mina Shrine Center.
“We want to get more of a public image of what we do,” Self said prior to the arrival of the mini-bikes.
The local Shriners can typically be seen on their mini-bikes during parades, riding in figure-eight patterns and manning a booth at the Nederland Heritage Festival. By making the public performances, Self and other Shriners hope to shed light upon the organization which provides orthopedic, burn, spinal cord injury and cleft lip and palate care to children under 18. The local group works with two major hospitals, one in Galveston and one in Houston.
Self explained why the ride and fundraising is important to the group.
“We don’t go out and stand on street corners and ask for money, not that we wouldn’t,” he said with a chuckle.
The group has various fundraising events throughout the year such as link sales or an oyster fry as well as festivals. Money that’s designated for hospitals go directly to the hospitals they work with.
Self remembers a Nederland youngster who was burned several years ago. The child had been playing with a lawnmower and gasoline in the garage when the hot water heater ignited. The child was taken to the burn center in Galveston and with help from the Shriners, the child’s parents were able to stay in a motel nearby.
“You get to stay with your child,” he said of the work of the Shriners. “We don’t ask if you have any money or not. Some people have no insurance or are young and can’t afford it.”
Corley said we are fortunate that Texas has two hospitals with specialized care for burns and orthopedics.
“And we treat children regardless of their ability to pay,” Corley said. “Right now in the Golden triangle there are 107 patients being treated and one or the other hospital.
There are 14 people in the local club. Six of them departed form Port Arthur for Galveston while one was scheduled to join in in Winnie. Local law enforcement was scheduled to escort the group along the way including Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Chambers County Sheriff’s Office and Galveston law enforcement.
More information about the Shriners can be found online.