(TAMPA, Fla.) Shriners International is pleased to announce the winners of our 2nd Annual Personal Essay Contest. All essays that met our qualifications were reviewed anonymously by a team of judges comprised of both Shriners and non-Shriners. There were many interesting and inspirational essays submitted and the final decision was difficult. Congratulations to the following Shriners on their award winning essays (excerpts appear below) :
John W. Grace, Egypt Shriners
“And I walked, walked so many places throughout my life. I walked through the woods. Walked under the stars. I walked to class. Walked up to get my medical school diploma. And I walked, actually walked, back into that Shriners Hospital almost forty years later.
I was given a life-time of experiences and the luxury to take them for granted. That was given to me without any expectation of gratitude or indebtedness.
It took almost forty years before I finally appreciated what I’d been given, forty years before I finally noticed the heroes that saved me. And that’s why I came back, to give something back to the group that gave me everything, to return home from a long walk after finally appreciating being able to walk.”
Adam Thomas Osman, Jaffa Shriners
“My journey from uninformed high school kid to Master Mason, to Shriner, and even to Master of my Blue Lodge has been an overwhelming and exciting experience. The bonds of fraternal peace, brotherly love and respect for my fellow citizens have given me the pride and confidence that I am not sure I would have found elsewhere.
The very principles taught in Freemasonry and implemented in the Shrine no longer have me asking ‘Who are these guys?’ but rather, ‘Would you like to know a little bit about who we are?’”
Kirk Pearson Sr., Zamora Shriners
“Finally, he asked me, ‘Dad, why don’t you join?’ I didn’t have an answer. He went on to tell me how much fun he was having, how great the fellowship was, and about all the kids he got to make smile. Although I was hesitant, I joined.
I was one of the oldest men in the Spring Class in 2010, but I was a Shriner. The next weekend, I joined the Clowns. We had a workshop to teach me how to put on makeup. I have to admit, being my age, I felt a bit silly putting on clown make-up, but I persevered. I know I am not the best, but I am one of the most content.”
The winners will all receive plaques, pins and Amazon gift cards for their achievement. The full version of the essays will be featured in the 2012-2013 Annual Report and a new book which will be available at Imperial Session and online starting on June 30 for a donation to Shriners Hospitals for Children®. They will also be recognized during the Public Relations Report at Imperial Session on July 3, 2013 in Indianapolis, Ind. The temples of the winning essay writers will also receive a plaque acknowledging the winner and their temple.
We would like to extend our sincere appreciation to all of you who took the time to reflect upon your life as a Shriner by writing an essay. By doing so, you are helping to preserve the rich history of our fraternity.
About Shriners International
Shriners International is a fraternity based on fun, fellowship and the Masonic principles of brotherly love, relief and truth. There are 309,000members throughout the world.To learn more, visit www.shrinersinternational.org.