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Not All Heroes Wear Capes

Hernandez during Boston Marathon

Hernandez crossing the 2023 Boston Marathon finish line

Aleppo Shriner Proudly Crosses Seventh Boston Marathon Finish Line

Shriner, marathon runner, doctor, U.S. Army Reserve major, philanthropist, Flipz the Clown – these are just a few of the roles Howard R. Hernandez, M.D., is known for.

“True greatness is not what we accomplish ourselves, but the greatness we inspire in others.”

They’re words that sum up the “why” for Hernandez – words that are often shared by his marathon running coach, Rick Muhr.

Hernandez, who was born in the Philippines, recently completed his seventh consecutive Boston Marathon. He crossed the finish line wearing his Army uniform and carrying an American flag.

“When I turned 40 years old, I committed myself to running for good health and to raise funds for various charities,” he said.

Hernandez started running in 2017 and hasn’t stopped since.

“I’m always up for a challenge,” he said. “If I can run a marathon, I can conquer life’s other challenges. When faced with the toughest challenges and even failures in my life, I rely on my Boston Marathon experiences and what they’ve taught me to weather them. I come away from each run more dedicated, determined and grateful.”

Hernandez also enjoys the camaraderie involved with running marathons, and being able to raise funds for charity while doing it.

Becoming a Shriner

In 2014, months after he became a Mason, Hernandez became a member of Aleppo Shriners in Wilmington, Massachusetts, to serve his community and provide hope and healing to children. “One of my love languages is service, which is what I share with my Masonic brethren and their families,” he said.

Hernandez is very active in his local chapter and Shrine Club, and has served the fraternity in various leadership roles. In 2020, he became a member of the Board of Governors for Shriners Children’s New England, which he said is one of his greatest honors.

“I am grateful to be able to contribute to the whole and to the mission of bringing fun and fellowship with purpose,” Hernandez said. “I believe in the resiliency of a child and the power of play in the context of healing. I get to be a kid at heart again, as well!”

Equipped with a young and playful spirit, Hernandez, also known as Flipz, is a Northeast Clown Institute (NCI) Master Clown, clowning as a Shriner since 2015.

“Life can be a struggle and hard sometimes,” he said. “I became a clown to spread laughter. I think it’s very special to put the needs of a child who is debilitated and not feeling well before your own, and give them moments of happiness and joy. It empowers them, and this I believe helps in their healing process and recovery."

Hernandez wearing clown nose

Hernandez, AKA Flipz, never leaves home without his nose.

Commitment to Healing and Service

Hernandez has dedicated his career to helping children and adolescents as a practicing psychiatrist. “I am a physician who tries to help kiddos with their troubles and feelings,” he said. He also provides interventional psychiatry for adults.

In 2020, Hernandez joined the U.S. Army Reserve, where he serves as a major. He is currently preparing for his first deployment as the Chief of Behavioral Health for our soldiers for three to six months.

“I joined to serve and pay it forward to the people of this great country whom I owe a lot to,” he said.

Hernandez is looking forward to his deployment, and hopes it sparks something in his military career.

Greatest Joy of All

With a wide variety of admirable accomplishments under his belt, Hernandez said becoming a Shriner was one of his greatest decisions.

“Shriners are family,” he said. “Joining the Shriners has been the best decision in my life. It is the perfect opportunity to give, share and receive love. And love, as we know, is all. It’s all about the kids!”

With his red fez, red nose and American flag, Hernandez reminds us all that not all heroes wear capes.

Hernandez clowning around, being silly while wearing clown nose