About Our Float
For the twelfth consecutive year, Shriners Children’s will participate in the 134th Rose Parade presented by Honda. Eight representatives will ride on the float entitled Back in the Game. The float expresses our patients’ joy in reaching for their dreams no matter what challenges they have faced before.
How to Watch the Parade
Float Concept Description / Why Our Theme was Chosen
Our parade entry, Back in the Game, celebrates our patients’ joy in reaching for their dreams no matter what challenges they have faced before. The work of children is play – from competing in sports to playing outdoors in the sun, dancing to music or just hanging out with friends. That’s why the compassionate and caring staff of Shriners Children’s are here to find ways to help our patients meet their own goals and spend time doing the activities they love.
On our float, a boy using a wheelchair plays basketball, spinning the ball and making the moves on the court. Our mascot Fezzy is dressed for the diamond and ready to swing for the fences, and a girl with a prosthetic holds her golf club on the green – will this be a birdie putt?
Shriners Children’s offers opportunities for patients to try new things and play just like their peers do, through adaptive sports including wheelchair basketball camps, adaptive bicycling, rowing and more. In addition, our pediatric orthotic and prosthetic services create custom prosthetics for kids to engage in all kinds of recreational activities, including running, jumping, dancing, martial arts, and creative endeavors such as playing musical instruments, sketching and painting.
Our desire to help kids play is reflected in Shriners Children’s connections with signature events. Represented on our float are the East-West Shrine Bowl, a storied college all-star game; and the Shriners Children’s Open, a PGA TOUR event; as well as college baseball and basketball tournaments, and NASCAR. With the opportunity to watch, attend and even participate in these special events, our patients see that no dreams are off-limits. These signature sporting events also give the rest of the world a window into the lives of our patients and the amazing care that happens at Shriners Children’s.
Among our float riders are National Patient Ambassadors Katherine and Parker, two young athletes who with Shriners Children’s help overcame devastating injuries in car accidents and returned to playing competitive sports. They are joined by Kenneth Craven, the CEO of the Shriners International fraternity, his wife Jennifer, and honored guests from Shriners International and Shriners Children’s.
To get Back in the Game means to never give up. It is a mindset that obstacles are really just opportunities to demonstrate persistence, resilience and grace, and to test yourself and discover what you are truly capable of. Whether our patients are convalescing after a sports or play injury, or receiving treatment for a complex condition, they know that their medical journey is not what defines them. Rather, it is their unbridled spirit and desire to achieve that sets them apart. That’s why Shriners Children’s chose Back in the Game for the theme of our 2023 Rose Parade float.
How Our Float’s Theme Relates to the Rose Parade Theme
Shriners Children’s float theme, Back in the Game, beautifully complements the 2023 Rose Parade’s theme, Turning a Corner. For our patients, the medical journey is just that: a journey, not a destination. The journey may be filled with challenges, and each one overcome represents a milestone achieved, a corner turned. With resilience and determination, our patients are empowered to reach for their dreams, whatever they may be. Each corner turned puts the inspiring patients of Shriners Children’s one step closer to getting Back in the Game.
Float Rider Profiles
National Patient Ambassador, Shriners Children's
Katherine, 19, is a student at Northeastern University in Boston, where she majors in nursing and plays on the Division 1 soccer team. After a devastating car accident in 2019, however, she wasn’t sure she’d make it to this point.
The fiery crash left Katherine with third- and fourth-degree burns on her lower left leg and burns on her right calf and thigh. She was taken to a local hospital, then transferred to Shriners Children’s Boston. She underwent emergency surgery to save her leg from amputation and was hospitalized for a month. During that time, Katherine had six surgeries and procedures, and worked at physical and occupational therapy daily.
A soccer player since she was 3, Katherine had committed to playing at Northeastern University when she was just 15. To help Katherine achieve her athletic goals and get back to playing the sport she loves, her therapists focused on mobility, endurance, strength and range of motion. After transitioning to outpatient care, Katherine has returned for laser surgery three times. Inspired to give back, Katherine has organized donation drives in her community and is happy to serve as a National Patient Ambassador for the healthcare system. “When everything seems to be going wrong, look for the good things that came out of it,” Katherine said. “For me, it was the people I met throughout my journey.”
National Patient Ambassador, Shriners Children's
Parker was 10 when his life changed forever. In the car on the way to school, Parker’s mom Sharonda had a seizure and lost consciousness. “When Parker realized something was wrong, he unbuckled his seatbelt and got to the front to take over the wheel,” Sharonda said. Her son’s courageous action helped steer them away from oncoming traffic before crashing. “He saved our lives,” she said.
Among other serious injuries, Parker suffered a badly broken ankle. When he learned that his leg would need to be amputated due to the injury, the athletic youth was devastated.
Three months later and feeling hopeless, Parker became a patient at Shriners Children’s Greenville, where a skilled team began working to help him get back to participating in the activities he loves. He was fitted with a prosthetic leg designed for comfortable support and lots of physical activity.
Now 13, “Parker is as strong as ever,” said Sharonda. “He rides bikes and four-wheelers with his friends. He plays basketball on his middle school team. He perseveres with a positive outlook. Shriners Children’s helped break the chains off Parker, and now he’s limitless!”
Parker said he is pleased to be a National Patient Ambassador, “because I can give back a small portion to Shriners Children’s, which has given me a great deal of my life back.”
Kenneth G. "Kenny" Craven and JJ Craven
Imperial Potentate and First Lady, Shriners International
Kenny Craven is the Imperial Potentate, or CEO, of Shriners International, the fraternity that founded Shriners Children’s. He also serves as the Board of Directors for Shriners Children’s. His wife JJ has the title of First Lady.
Kenny has been a Shriner since 1988, and served as the leader of his local chapter in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, in 2012. He has been involved in all aspects of Shriners’ sports throughout the years including the East-West Shrine Bowl, College Classic, Charleston Classic and the NASCAR program. He is a huge sports fan and is loyal to the South Carolina Gamecocks and Washington Commanders.
Kenny has worked in the automotive industry for many years, managing dealerships and handling fleet accounts, and is an accomplished businessman and leader. JJ is the chair of the Women Impacting Care program that supports Shriners Children‘s. Her fundraising program “The World is Your Oyster” focuses on Shriners Children’s care for sports and play-related injuries. Kenny and JJ have been together for 22 years, and live in Summerville, South Carolina, where they enjoy a Lowcountry lifestyle of being on and around the water. They enjoy the love and support of their families, including daughter Stacey. But the most important person without question – Poppy’s biggest fan – is sweet little granddaughter, Ella Grace.
James A. "Jim" Doel and Lyn Doel
Trustee, Board of Trustees, Shriners Children's
Jim Doel is serving his third three-year term on the Shriners Children’s Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees manages and operates all of the Shriners Children’s locations around the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
He has served in many roles in the Shriners organizations including Emeritus Members, Colorado Corporation; Emeritus Board of Governors of Shriners Children’s Boston; Vice Chairman, Hospital Regulations; Chairman, Corporate Compliance and Ethics; Chairman, Medical Affairs, and as a member of the marketing and communications, donor relations, strategic planning and building and equipment committees.
Doel is also involved with Shriners Children’s sports initiatives, serving as Chairman of the Motorsports and Hockey Programs.
Doel is the founder and past C.E.O. of Jade Transportation Services in Perth, Ontario, Canada, and has been in the transportation management industry for more than 30 years. Now retired from business, he consults within the radioactive transportation industry.
Jim and Lyn have been married for more than 35 years. They live in Perth, and have a daughter, Kimberlee.
Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Shriners Children's and Former Shriners Children's Patient
Mel Bower joined the corporate headquarters staff of Shriners International and Shriners Children’s in January 2018 as chief marketing and communications officer. In that role, he leads the corporate marketing and communications department, overseeing all Shriners Children’s locations throughout North America. He brings a wealth of experience in these and allied areas, particularly in relation to healthcare.
Mel was diagnosed with Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease when he was 18 months old. His family pediatrician immediately referred him to Shriners Hospitals for Children in St. Louis, where he was treated for several years. Throughout his lifetime, his parents taught him to always be grateful for the treatment he received, which resulted in a Ted Talk entitled “The Circle of Gratitude.” When the professional opportunity presented for Mel to serve the Shriners organization as the chief marketing officer, it felt to be the perfect response for the lifelong gratitude he had always held for the Shriners.
Mel is a member of Ainad Shriners of East St. Louis, Illinois.
Director, Sports Management, Shriners Children's
Bob Roller joined the leadership team at Shriners Children’s in January 2019 to serve as the director of national sports management. Roller oversees the signature national sporting events for Shriners Children’s including the East-West Shrine Bowl, a college all-star football game; Shriners Children’s College Classic, a six-team college baseball tournament; Shriners Children’s Open, a PGA TOUR FexExCup Event; Shriners Children’s Charleston Classic, a three-day invitational college basketball tournament, and a Motorsports program.
Roller has more than 30 years experience in athletic management, and more than 20 years of national marketing, including serving for three years as the Orange Bowl Committee’s director of communications and seven years as vice president of college sports for Host Communications. Over the course of 18 years, he raised $50 million to rebuild the athletic facilities of Samford University and Campbell University.
He holds a Master of Science in education administration from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, and has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and mass communications from Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Virginia. He is a member of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics, National Association of Athletic Directors of Development and College Sports Information Directors of America.