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A Flight to Remember

Forschino and Craven op airplane

Todd Forschino and Imperial Potentate Kenny Craven


When Todd Forschino boarded his flight to his first Membership and Marketing Conference, he was thinking of little more than finding his seat in the back row of the plane. A member of Azan Shriners in Melbourne, Florida, Todd was preparing for a great learning opportunity in Grapevine, Texas, with nobles from all over the world.

As he made his way back to his row, Todd saw a man in the aisle seat, and felt bad that he had to ask him to get up to let him into his window seat.

After they exchanged pleasantries, the man asked him why he was headed to Dallas. Excited about the conference he was about to attend, and with the enthusiasm that so many Shriners have for the brotherhood and the charity, he began to share his passion for the fraternity.

“I just told him that I was a Shriner and I was going to a conference to learn about getting more members,” Todd recalled. “I said, ‘I just gotta tell you, we Shriners do great things.’ And I began telling him about all the amazing things we do, and why men should join.”

Seeing a great opportunity to speak to someone about becoming a member while he was on the way to a membership conference, Todd shared all the reasons why he loves being a Shriner and why it’s such an excellent opportunity for men.

“These kinds of moments with people we meet in our everyday lives are so important,” he said. “When you have an open door like that to talk about Shriners International, it’s a door you have to walk through. I’m passionate about what we do as Shriners,” he said. “I love the brotherhood, what we do for children in our healthcare system, and the difference we make in our communities. I want to share that with everyone I meet.”

It turns out that he wouldn’t need to really “sell” his seat neighbor on becoming a Shriner. Yet, Todd’s passion for Shriners was doubly impressive to him, because that man was Kenny Craven, Imperial Potentate (President) of Shriners International.

“He was just so passionate and enthusiastic about being a Shriner and going to the conference,” Imperial Sir Kenny said. “I didn’t want to interrupt him and tell him who I was right away, because I was just so drawn in by what he had to say. I almost felt bad that I had to tell him I was the Imperial Potentate.”

Todd, understandably, was shocked to be sitting next to the No. 1 Shriner in the world. “I was like, ‘Oh my god, I’m sitting next to a dignitary!’ But he was so humble – he said to me, ‘Oh no, you’re the true dignitary, sharing your excitement about being a Shriner.’”

The next day, during the opening remarks of the conference, Imperial Sir Kenny shared the story with the attendees to a round of applause for Todd. He then called him to the stage to present him with the Imperial Potentate’s challenge coin.

“I was glad to share that story with everyone at the conference on the first morning,” Imperial Sir Kenny said. “It was a great way to kick off the conference and show how important it is for us, as Shriners, to be open to sharing our story wherever we go.”

It’s an experience that Todd has taken to heart. He recently lost his father, Henry, who was also a Shriner. It was his father’s wish to see him raised a 32nd degree Master Mason in the Scottish Rite and become a Shriner. Todd became a Mason four years ago and a Shriner two years ago before his father passed.

“To have a moment like with the Imperial Potentate – it just felt like it was a sign from my father that I’m on the right path,” Todd said. “And now I know that I’ll continue to speak passionately about being a Mason and Shriner until my last breath.”