Noble Winford H. Dillard, better known as “Wink,” of Egypt Shriners in Tampa, Fla., has been named Shriner of the Month for October 2014. The award program was developed by the leadership of Shriners International to honor outstanding nobles who demonstrate an extraordinary commitment to both the fraternity and its philanthropy, Shriners Hospitals for Children.
An Important Asset for Patients and Their Families
Noble Dillard was born in Welch, W.Va., where he married his Lady, Willa, in 1960. They have three children, nine grandchildren, and five and a half great-grandchildren. Not long after Noble Dillard moved to Lakeland, Fla., he joined Egypt Shriners and the Lakeland Shrine Club. There, he met Noble Don Markell, who had been transporting the children of Polk County to Shriners Hospitals for Children — Tampa for many years. Noble Markell was very ill, and he recruited Noble Dillard to take his place as the patient transportation driver for the club. Taking over the responsibility with immense enthusiasm, Noble Dillard made his first trip in May 2005. The number of patient transports began increasing, so Noble Dillard recruited several more drivers and co-pilots to fill the growing needs of the program.
An avid Corvette enthusiast, Noble Dillard was having his personal car serviced at Stingray Chevrolet in Plant City, Fla., when he approached the owner regarding the patient transportation program. As a result of the conversation, the owner said he would donate gasoline to fuel the hospital excursions. From then on, the patient transportation drivers would fill up the vans at Stingray Chevrolet, allowing the money saved to be used elsewhere. In 2010, Noble Dillard spoke to the owner again about purchasing a new van to replace their aging one. The following week, the owner donated a van to the Lakeland Shrine Club to help them manage the increasing number of patient transports. The patient transports continued to grow, and two years later, Noble Dillard convinced the owner to sell the Club another van, at his cost. Today, Noble Dillard continues to organize all the patient transportation trips, which add up to about 15-20 hours per week. He keeps one van at home, and another in the eastern part of Polk County to better serve the patients and their families.
The Epitome of a Shriner
In addition to being dedicated to the transportation of patients, Noble Dillard is also a devoted volunteer at the Tampa Shriners Hospital. For the past six years he has volunteered in the seating department, which manages the selection of wheelchairs, seating technologies and components that meet the anticipated growth needs of the patients. He has a regular full-day weekly shift with the department, and also comes in to work additional days when he transports patients to the hospital. So far, Noble Dillard has logged a total of 2,164 volunteer hours at the Tampa Shriners Hospital.
Noble Dillard also collects aluminum tabs and cans, and so far he has brought more than 120 gallons to the hospital. He also collects cans from the local golf course, as well as his subdivision, and sells them to raise additional money for the Tampa hospital. Noble Dillard also takes the old batteries from the hospital’s seating department, sells them and donates the money back to the department – to date, the donations have amounted to more than $1,000. He also assists with car show fundraisers and volunteers with the Lakeland Fire Department at their annual open house, where he shares burn awareness materials with the community.
The impact of Noble Dillard’s many activities on behalf of the fraternity and its philanthropy is immeasurable. He used the knowledge that comes from having a degree in mechanical engineering from Virginia Tech to initiate a mobility equipment service that accepts used equipment, reconditions it, and then donates the equipment to children who do not have the financial means to obtain it. The service, which started out to include just walkers and manual wheelchairs, has grown to also include power wheelchairs, scooters and various accessories. According to Craig Kraft, the seating coordinator at the Tampa Shriners Hospital, “Most wheelchairs cost from $500 to $5,000. Noble Dillard helps us maximize our resources to help more children who need seating and wheeled mobility equipment here at Shriners Hospital for Children — Tampa.”
In addition to the obvious tangible benefits of his efforts, Noble Dillard’s hard work provides an example to look up to, which inspires and motivates fellow members, creates a positive impression in the community, and, in turn, strengthens membership.
According to those who know Noble “Wink,” he truly loves volunteering, and his dedication and commitment to Shriners International and its philanthropy, Shriners Hospitals for Children, are the personification of a Shriner.
Congratulations to Noble Dillard for his achievements and for being chosen Shriner of the Month.