donate icon DONATE

One Hundred Years of Hope Healing and Innovation

A History of Making the World a Better Place

Shriners Children's is one of the most unique, widely-renowned healthcare systems in the world, and its founding 100 years ago by the Shriners fraternity is a special story worthy of celebrating.

We are honored to commemorate this incredible milestone, a 100 years of providing hope, healing and innovation.

Back to the Beginning: A Tradition of Philanthropy

Members of Shriners International, a fraternity based on fun, fellowship and the Masonic principles, have always shared a common desire to help those in need. Known for aiding the victims of catastrophic events and serving those less fortunate in their local communities, Shriners have consistently shown a deep dedication to making the world a better place.

In the early half of the 1900s, polio affected thousands of people annually in the United States alone, especially children. The need for pediatric orthopedic services was great, and help was needed to treat the effects of polio and other conditions affecting the bones, joints and muscles. Members of the Shriners fraternity recognized that need, and decided to do something about it.

Shriners Children's is Born

The plan for Shriners International to form their own unique charity began to take shape in the late 1910s. After years of laying the groundwork, their vision of providing specialty medical care to children, regardless of a families' ability to pay or insurance status, finally came alive.

In 1922, the first Shriners hospital opened its doors in Shreveport, Louisiana, providing state-of-the-art pediatric orthopedic care. Thanks to members of the Shriners fraternity, Shriners Children's was officially born. The group continues to support the healthcare system as its official philanthropy today.

First Shriners Children's hospital in Shreveport, Louisiana

The original Shriners Children's hospital in Shreveport, Louisiana.

A Century of Improving the Lives of Children

Over the past century, Shriners Children’s has become one of the largest pediatric sub-specialty healthcare systems in the world. Today, our multiple locations in the United States, Canada and Mexico provide advanced care for children with a range of orthopedic issues, as well as care for burn injuries, craniofacial conditions, spine care and spinal cord injuries, colorectal and gastrointestinal care, and sports medicine.

Shriners Children’s is changing lives every day through its three-part mission to provide innovative pediatric specialty care, world-class research and outstanding medical education. Over the last 100 years, Shriners Children’s has treated more than 1.5 million children from more than 180 countries, and we are looking forward to the next 100 years of care.

Hope Makes Us Different

We all want the very best for our children. Every child deserves the chance to live a full, happy life – no matter the circumstances or challenges they may face.

The staff of Shriners Children's believes this wholeheartedly, and that’s why for the past 100 years, we have been dedicated to providing hope and healing to children every single day.

At Shriners Children's, we embrace a compassionate, family-centered and collaborative care approach that addresses the overall health and wellbeing of each child, and every patient receives personalized attention and individualized care plans made just for them.

Once under our care, families struggling with complex medical issues discover they are not alone. They are surrounded by hope, compassion and confidence because we know that when you give a family hope, everything changes.

Our goal has been, and continues to be, to help our patients understand that there are no limitations to what they can accomplish and that they are not defined by any challenges they may face. That's what makes us different, and that's what makes us Shriners Children's.

They talked to us about what we wanted to do when we grew up, encouraging us not to accept limitations. Not only did they fix me physically, they gave me that push to go into the world and overcome adversity. To this day, I don't let too much stop me. If I want something, I do what I have to do to get it. If someone tells me I can't do something, I try twice as hard to prove I can."
Tonya Bishop-Bryant, 1970s past patient, Shriners Children's Lexington

A Tradition of Providing State-of-the-Art Specialty Care

For 100 years, Shriners Children’s pediatric care teams have been led by some of the most prestigious and innovative doctors in the world.

Learn more about some of ways we have paved the way in specialty care for children:

Orthopedic Care

Since the first Shriners Children’s location opened in the 1920s, primarily to help children who had contracted polio, today, the majority of our locations provide care for children with all types of orthopedic conditions.

Shriners Children's is one of the largest networks of facilities in North America that specialize in pediatric orthopedics. Our pediatric specialists treat a wide range of conditions - from the rare to the routine - including clubfoot, hip disorders, limb deficiencies and limb deformities, scoliosis, fractures, orthopedic difficulties related to cerebral palsy and other neuromuscular conditions, sports injuries and more.

From fracture care and casting for broken bones, to surgery and rehabilitation, our healthcare system offers a full spectrum of orthopedic services. We also provide low-dose radiology, motion analysis, bracing, casting, and orthotic and prosthetic services. All of these are complemented by our physical, occupational and recreational therapy programs.

Burn Care

Aware of a need for medical expertise in pediatric burn care, Shriners Children’s opened three hospitals specializing in acute and rehabilitative burn care in the mid-1960s. These were the only facilities that were initially established exclusively for the treatment of pediatric burns and related conditions.

Today, there are three Shriners Children's locations providing burn care that are accredited by the American Burn Association (ABA) and the American College of Surgeons (ACS) as verified pediatric burn centers. These burn centers continue to be pioneers in pediatric burn treatment and research, and are recognized as leaders in the development of improved and innovative treatment techniques.

Shriners Children’s treats all levels and types of burns, including chemical burns, electrical burns and flame burns. Since we began treating burns nearly 40 years ago, our physicians and care teams have contributed to most of the significant advancements in acute and reconstructive burn care. They draw on their own pioneering work when they treat a child for a burn, which can include wound care, scar management and reconstructive surgeries.

Spinal Cord Injury Care

In the early 1980s, Shriners Children’s began the nation’s first pediatric spinal cord injury rehabilitation programs, paving the way for life-changing innovative care and treatment in the field. These initiatives offer patients a complete range of services that help promote recovery to the fullest extent possible, which is always our goal.

Our healthcare system now offers a full spectrum of pediatric spine and spinal cord care and services, which range from nonsurgical serial casting for infantile scoliosis to tendon and nerve transfers that can bring back function and sensation to children with spinal cord injuries.

Our pediatric spine and spinal cord physicians are among the most highly skilled and specialized in North America. We are internationally known and respected for our expertise in pediatric spine and spinal cord care, providing transformative, compassionate and life-changing care to children to support them physically and emotionally.

Cleft Lip and Palate Care

Cleft lip and palate care is another of the healthcare system’s main specialties. Facial clefts are one of the most common birth defects in the U.S., but despite its frequency and severity, comprehensive care for patients with cleft lip and/or cleft palate can be difficult to find. Shriners Children’s is committed to improving care for children with these conditions through a coordinated program of clinical excellence, teaching and research.

Shriners Children’s specialists help with the physical, social, emotional and developmental challenges that can occur when a child has a craniofacial condition, such as cleft lip and palate. Our locations offer advanced treatments and services such as craniofacial surgery, 3D printing for jaw surgeries, facial and dental imaging, psychology, speech therapy, audiology, ear, nose and throat surgeons, dental and orthodontic related services, and care management.

We are proud that multiple Shriners Children’s locations are American Cleft Palate Craniofacial Association approved teams. Our plastic surgeons have undergone additional training to evaluate and treat craniofacial conditions in children.

Collage of images of patients overt the years with text that says celebrating 100 years

Since opening our first hospital 100 years ago, our goal remains the same – to change and improve the lives of children and their families. And, we do whatever it takes to reach that goal!

Groundbreaking Research and Discoveries

Shriners Children’s strives to discover answers that will one day improve lives by conducting high-quality, innovative research.

Over the years, our researchers have made significant breakthroughs in many of our areas of specialty care – including burn care, congenital neuromuscular disorders, craniofacial conditions, orthopedics, spine care and sports medicine. These cutting-edge discoveries continue to improve the care and quality-of-life for countless children worldwide, while adding to the global body of medical knowledge.

From research to clinical practice, Shriners Children’s continues to transform our approach to pediatric healthcare through the pursuit of new knowledge and innovation.

Educating the Healthcare Professionals of Tomorrow

Shriners Children’s also plays a huge role in medical education. By maintaining relationships with several top-notch medical teaching facilities, Shriners Children’s fosters an academic environment committed to providing superior education for medical professionals and quality care to all patients.

Notable Innovations Over the Years:

  • Improved therapies for burn injures has increased survival rates for children with burn injuries
  • Development of pressure garments to reduce/minimize scarring for kids with burn injuries
  • Development of IV medical therapies for bone disorders such as osteogenesis imperfecta
  • Creation of the nation’s first pediatric spinal cord injury program
  • Creation of the world’s first dedicated pediatric burns hospital
  • Development of vertebral body tethering, an innovate surgical approach to scoliosis treatment
  • Creation of a dedicated genomics institute to aid in the discovery of genetic root causes for disease
  • Pioneers in regenerative medicine: first to grow skin grafts using a patient’s own cells for the treatment of burn injuries
  • Breakthrough research identifying a cellular link to the development of arthritis in children
  • Development of muscle stimulation systems in the care of children with spinal cord injuries
  • Innovative surgical treatments to improve patients’ quality-of-life
  • Global leader in pediatric spinal cord injury rehabilitation and management

Patient Alumni Network, meet Jacob

Former Shriners Children's patient, Jacob helps us launch our new Patient Alumni Network which allows former patients to connect and stay involved with Shriners Children's, sharing their stories. Learn more: http://shrinerspatientalumni.org
View Transcript

Jacob Pacheco: My name is Jacob Pacheco. I am a former Shiners Children's patient. I live in Long Beach, California, Southern California, where the weather and the beaches are nice.

I'm deeply honored to be part of the Patient Alumni Network celebrating Shiners Children's 100 year anniversary.

I was born with a physical disability called spastic cerebral palsy. I was diagnosed at six months of age, and so my family and I basically lived with this condition throughout my entire life. But when I was younger, my condition got pretty severe and my family and I were looking for some answers and we happened to find Shiners Children's, and we came here when I was about six years old, all the way through until I was about 16.

The rehabilitation isn't a straight path. It's really important to take the lessons you learn at a young age and apply them to your later life as an adult. I actually became a professional surfer, a speaker, that I get to travel the world, and kind of promote this message of inclusion, community, and love. I've learned that those lessons never apply moreso than in the ocean as a surfer, because a wave in the ocean is going to come at you one way or another, and you have to learn how to deal with it. You have a lot of different choices to make. You can either let life happen to you, you can go around different obstacles and challenges, or you can ride them out and see how it goes. I prefer to ride them out or move around them because I think that's a little bit more fun, but I think those life lessons are very, very important that we can all apply to our own journeys. It leads to a lot of fulfillment in inner peace.

What makes Shiners Children's so special is the amount of support and care that you get when you walk through those doors, not just from the doctors, but from the support staff, the Shriners that are there to greet you in the waiting room, the nurses who are there to help take care of you, that's what I think differentiates the hospital more than most.

To any patients or families who are inside Shiners Children's right now, I have one thing to say to you. One step at a time, one day at a time. I know it might be hard right now, but it will get better. Just keep a smile on your face and keep moving forward.

Are you a previous Shiners Children's patient? If you are click them link below to join our network.

Julie Gives Back: Girl Scout Gold Award

Eighty hours of hard work is the icing on the cake for Julie. She’s spent an entire childhood serving her community through the Girl Scouts. Now, as a high school freshman, she’s working toward her Gold Award – the highest honor a Girl Scout can earn. Julie is a bright 14-year-old. Her sights are set on the future: a high school career that will transition into college classes and part-time employment even before that. So, to ensure she could finish with ease and still have time for everything else, it was vital Julie start working on her Gold Award project as soon as possible. “Back in middle school before I could earn this award, I knew I wanted to do something for Shriners,” Julie explained. To put it simply, her project has heart and there’s a good reason why.
View Transcript

Julie: I wanted to give back, because Shriners has done so much for me. After going through three leg lengthening surgeries, my legs are finally even and I can't thank them enough for what they've done for me and I really wanted to give back, so I guess this is my way of giving back and helping other kids who are going through the same surgeries as I did.

Julie: I am writing a book about a kid with a leg length discrepancy to prepare kids for surgery. I'm also putting inspirational sayings on some of the clinic walls to help inspire them and I'm hoping to also include advice from former patients in the back of my book, so that these kids that have a little bit of advice from other people.

Julie: This team at this hospital is really amazing and any patient here is lucky to have Shriners there to help them.

@ShrinersPhilly patient Cole meets Temple University Men's Basketball Team

As Cole was riding his bike a few months ago, he was struck by a vehicle and was thrown a distance of over 30 feet. He was airlifted to be treated for his traumatic brain injury (TBI). He was then referred to Shriners Children's Philadelphia for rehabilitation and speech therapy, where he has made tremendous progress. Before his accident, he played on three competitive basketball teams. Basketball is his entire life. It was an honor to be able to send Cole to play with the Temple Owls during one of their practices, and for him and his dad to watch them play at the Shriners Children's Charleston Classic
View Transcript

Kenny Craven: Today, we are partnering with Temple University to have one of our patients from the Philadelphia Hospital to come over, Cole, to be part of the basketball team.

Jennifer: Cole was going to his friend's for dinner. My phone rang and it was a FaceTime from him and a strange woman was on the other end of that phone call.

She said, "Your son Cole's been in an accident. You need to get here." She said she had walked past Cole, his friend was behind him on his bike as well. She heard the impact of his head, his head hit the windshield, and then he flew about 30 feet. She said she turned around the saw flying through the air. He cracked his frontal lobe, his temporal lobe, his brain was bleeding, he had two bruises on his brain. Shriners called me Friday with an appointment on Monday. So that's how quickly we were there. It was like we were meant to be there. We worked primarily with two different therapists that were amazing. Everybody was very helpful.

Cole: Physical therapy, that was fun because she made me lift a little bit of weights. It's really nice that they want to save other kids' lives like mine and they helped me get back to what I was normally from the accident. They kind of put me back together.

Khalif Battle: Everybody goes through something, some people worse than others. He's been through something so traumatic and he's able to bounce back that quickly. So it shows a lot about the person he is.

Aaron McKie: Sometimes you need a inspiration. I speak with my eyes about taking advantage of opportunities and just looking in young Cole's eyes, he was taking advantage of the moment, aspiring to be a college basketball player one day.

Cole: Shriners Hospital has helped me get back on the court and let me play.

Kaysie Li and Andie Sue Achieve Greatness at Shriners Children's

View Transcript

Opening screen: Shriners Children's Northern California logo

Bottom third: Barbie, Mother of Andie Sue and Kaysie Li

Barbie: We were first introduced to Shriner's Children's when we knew we were adopting a child from China who needed an amputation of her right limb. Dr. Lerman was the surgeon who performed the amputations for both of my daughters.

Bottom third: Andie Sue, Patient at Shriners Children's

Andie Sue: Dr. Lerman first amputated my leg when I was 15 months old. He seen me figure out what I wanted to do with life. He seen me figure out my love for horses. And it's been really cool to show him all of the new competitions that I've gone to and the awards I've received. Dr. Lerman and Eric have been super supportive for my journey to the Paralympics.

Bottom third: Eric Smith, Certified Prosthetist

Eric Smith: Designing a prosthesis around the equestrian work that Andie Sue's doing has been really fun. We had to go outside the box and see a design of a prosthesis that is going to fit and function right as she's in those stirrups.

Bottom third: Kaysie Li, patient at Shriners Children's

Kaysie Li: My interest in dogs actually didn't really start until I was 14, and I've always loved them, dogs, because they're super cute. They make an impact when you're going through a surgery. Just like having that fluffy dog, cute dog right next to you. I want to do that for other people because that felt really good when it was done for me.

Kaysie Li: This is Rusty. He's a red tri Australian shepherd being trained for service and therapy.

Kaysie Li: Eric has been amazing about making our prosthetics. He always makes sure that they are fit right. He cares about just the tiniest bit of detail.

Eric Smith: It's really fun to match the prosthesis with the legs. And so they really feel like it's part of them and it's part of what makes them special and strong.

Barbie: See, it's really hard to say thank you enough to the staff. They've done so much for our family. And I don't even know how to express that gratitude to them for how comfortable they've made us feel. A lot of people would say it's just impossible and Shriners has said every step of the way it's possible. So thank you.

End screen: Shriners Children's Northern California logo

From Spinal Cord Injury to WCMX Champion: Alyssa's Journey at Shriners Hospitals for Children

(English Subtitles) Alyssa’s talent at the skate park isn’t the only thing setting her apart from other skateboarders her age. She’s different in one very specific way. She rides a wheelchair. Over the years, Alyssa has been cared for by a multidisciplinary team of Shriners Hospitals for Children — Northern California medical staff members including orthopaedists, orthopaedic spine surgeons, physical therapists, urologists and bowel management specialists. She has been fitted for various assistive mobility devices as she has grown. “Shriners [Hospitals] has been there for us through the years in every possible way, whether it’s help getting a new wheelchair faster or help talking to our insurances company about Alyssa’s needs, or even just getting a doctor’s note for school,” said her mother Anna. “Shriners is always there.”
View Transcript

Alyssa Montenegro:
My name is Alyssa Montenegro. I'm 16 years old. I've been a patient at Shriners for quite a long time actually. I'm not sure how many years to be honest, but it's been quite a while that I've been coming here, but I love coming to Shriners. It's one of my favorite hospitals to come to. Actually not one of my favorites, it is my favorite. When I was younger I was diagnosed with leukemia and so I was being treated at this one hospital, but I was not receiving the greatest treatment. The doctors there said that I was going to be bound, like stuck to a wheelchair. And I wouldn't be able to do anything for myself almost in a way, kind of like a vegetable. My parents, they didn't want to give up or anything and so they were searching and searching and they found Shriners hospital and they're like, "Hey, let's give this place a shot. Let's see what they have in store for us."

Alyssa Montenegro:
And so we came up here and they had me with crutches and walkers and braces and they got me... They were able to help get me a wheelchair. So that way I can even go on my own instead of having to use this big, bulky hospital wheelchair. And they just been making sure that I've always had all the equipment that I always needed to get through life. My main doctor, Dr. Loren Davidson, he comes in and he'll make sure that my bowel and bladder programs are going well and my spine isn't curving too bad or anything. And he's making sure that I have all the equipment I need. And he's just always there and making sure that I'm doing better than I was before, that things are always improving.

Alyssa Montenegro:
They started me off with a walker and eventually they moved me up to crutches and I was able to just walk around with the crutches. I was able to go up and down steps with crutches. I was improving so much, like way beyond what I ever thought I'd be able to do. And it was just, honestly, it opened my eyes to see what else I could possibly do. Not only just with walking, but also what I could do in my own chair too.

Alyssa Montenegro:
They've opened up this whole world to me. Now I can go to a skate park and I can skate in my chair and compete in competitions and I never thought I'd be able to do that. It's like another family to me, that they're just always there supporting me. If anything, life is just, it's skating, but in your chair instead of on a skateboard. Your donation is not just helping the hospital, but it's also helping the patients receive better treatment and also get a better life. The gift of care is WCMX for me.

2:33
Patient Alumni Network, meet Jacob
0:55
Julie Gives Back: Girl Scout Gold Award
1:41
@ShrinersPhilly patient Cole meets Temple University Men's Basketball Team
2:1
Kaysie Li and Andie Sue Achieve Greatness at Shriners Children's
1:5
From Spinal Cord Injury to WCMX Champion: Alyssa's Journey at Shriners Hospitals for Children

We're Just Getting Started!

Through innovative medicine, research, donor support and partnerships, Shriners Children's will continue to provide transformative pediatric care for hundreds of years to come.