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Former patient becomes Shriner

Wednesday, August 14, 2019
Andy with his wife and son

“My experience [at Shriners Hospitals for Children] was incredible!” said Andy, former Shriners Hospitals for Children — Salt Lake City patient. “It was the least ‘hospital’ feeling hospital I had experienced. From the front desk, to the individual attention from the nurses, to the doctors joking with me while being wheeled into surgery, their focus is clearly the patient.”

Andy, 32, has never forgotten his experience as a patient at Shriners Hospital for Children. Having been diagnosed with cerebral palsy at a young age, Andy was accustomed to what he perceived as the cold hospital environment. He first entered the Salt Lake City Shriners Hospital at age 14 and never wanted to go anywhere else. It was this stark contrast that made Andy want to understand more about the Shriners. His interest resulted in him being inducted in El Kalah, the Utah chapter of the international fraternity, in 2014.

“I really wanted to be a Shriner – I pushed for it to happen quickly,” Andy said of his fast-track from Mason to Shriner, which was less than a year. “I feel like I can do a lot of good for the organization.”

El Kalah Shriner Merlin Larsen agrees.

“Andy will raise the bar for Shriners in Utah and everywhere in Shrinedom,” said Larsen. “Having a Shriner kid become a Shriner has got to be rare, but we are especially lucky to have one with his presence.” The first year of being a Shriner, Andy was already an ambassador for Shriners International and Shriners Hospitals for Children. He was the keynote speaker at the inaugural El Kalah Golf Tournament, which was held to raise money for the Salt Lake City Shriners Hospital. Larsen has a strong memory of the event.

“Andy’s presence at the golf tournament brought an unexpected reality to what we were raising money for," said Larsen. "At the luncheon after the tournament, Andy gave a moving recount of his life in hospitals, his faith and how his life changed when he found Shriners Hospitals for Children. He received a standing ovation and I might add there were grown men shedding tears. It was truly the capstone of the whole event.”

Learn more about the Shriners International fraternity and their mission to support the philanthropy they founded, Shriners Hospitals for Children.

Pictured: Andy, his wife Micayla, and their son James in their home in Orem, Utah.