Shriners Hospitals for Children is a hospital system with locations throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico, including 18 orthopedic hospitals, three burn hospitals and one hospital providing orthopedic, burn and spinal cord care. All 22 Shriners Hospitals are dedicated to providing advanced, specialized care to children under the age of 18, free of charge.
Since its founding, the Shriners have supported charitable activities. In the early 1900s, desire grew for the Shriners to establish its own official philanthropy. Shriners at the 1919 Imperial Council Session voted to establish a “Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children.” In 1922, the first Shriners Hospital opened in Shreveport, La. It was dedicated to treating orthopedic injuries and birth defects in children. By the 1930s, 13 more Shriners hospitals were in operation.
During the 1960s, 40 years after opening its first orthopedic hospital, the Shriners opened three hospitals specializing in burn care. These hospitals had a three-fold mission: helping children, conducting burn research and training medical personnel in the treatment of burns.
Although Shriners Hospitals have always actively engaged in clinical research, the Shriners began to allocate significant funds for such efforts in the early 1960s. Since then, the Shriners have been the vanguard for orthopedic and burn research. In the early 1990s, the Shriners opened the nation’s first orthopedic hospital with a spinal cord injury center expressly for children.Two more opened soon after. At these Shriners hospitals, young people with spinal cord injuries can find specialized medical care needed for rehabilitation, as well as hope, inspiration and strength.
In 1996, Shriners representatives voted to change the name of their philanthropy to “Shriners Hospitals for Children” to reflect the expanded range of services provided.
Since its inception in 1959, the Nebraska Shrine Bowl has been the premier high school athletic event with all proceeds going to the Shriners Hospitals. This football game features graduating high school seniors from around the state. The Nebraska Shrine Bowl has featured two Heisman Trophy winners and Outland Trophy winners in addition to many All-Americans. The event has been held at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Neb., except for a temporary move to Seacrest Field in Lincoln during construction on Memorial Stadium in 2004. Since 2013 Shrine Bowl has been played at the Ron and Carol Cope Stadium at University of Nebraska-Kearney’s Foster Field in Kearney, Neb.
The rules for all Shriners Hospitals are simple: Any child can be admitted to a Shriners Hospital if, in the opinion of surgeons, the child can be helped and if the child is under the age of 18. Shriners Hospitals are open to all children without regard to financial ability or relationship to a Shriner.