A little girl born with a cleft lip. A young boy with 1st degree burns. A child with a spinal-cord injury or even a club foot. These children don’t choose these things. They’re just kids. They need love and care. That’s what the Shiners do. Shriners Hospital for Children is committed to providing the best care in their specialty areas of Orthopedics, Burn Care, Spinal Cord Injury, and Cleft Lip and Palate, regardless of a family’s ability to pay. Shriners Hospital has helped thousands upon thousands of kids each year and ask for nothing in return. They do what they do because they love and truly care about children.
Scott Smith, Owner of High Lifter Products, Inc, has witnessed this compassion first-hand. His son, Tanner Smith, was a patient at the Shriners Hospital in Louisiana. If it weren’t for the Shriners, Tanner’s road to recovery could have been dramatically different.
“When he was little, we noticed Tanner had a bit of a limp when he walked,” Smith recalls. “It was one of those things we didn’t notice too much at first, but as he aged we noticed it more and more. When it got to a certain point, we realized it wasn’t normal so we took him to see a professional. We had medical experts, some of the best you can buy, tell us his leg was too short and they needed to break the bone and extend it. Another doctor told us there was nothing they could do.”
“My dad happened to be friends with one of the guys at Shriners,” Smith explains. “He said, ‘Why don’t you just go over there and talk to them? They are kid-pros.’ So we took his advice. The team at the Shriners Hospital had an answer for us right away. The doctor said, ‘We’ve seen this before and even though it’s not typical, it is not incredibly uncommon. His tendon in his leg is pulled up too tight, not allowing his foot to extend all the way. It’s causing him to walk on the ball instead of on his entire foot. We can go in and make a small incision, repair the tendon, put him in a cast for about nine months and he’ll be good to go.’ Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened.”
“To top it all off, they did it free of charge,” says Smith. “It doesn’t matter if you’re flat-broke poor or a multi-millionaire, they don’t ask for a penny. We’re not rich, but we’re not poor, so we wouldn’t have fallen into any kind of program. What they did for us, they do for thousands of kids every day.”
After Tanner’s surgery, Smith became very passionate about giving back to the Shriners. He started by donating all the money he won from racing. One day, High Lifter customer, Scott McDaniels, contacted Smith with an idea. Scott McDaniels was a big mud rider and a District Manager at Applebee’s. His son had also been helped by the Shriners. McDaniels mentioned to Smith that they should organize a charity ride. Smith jumped all over it and together they started the first annual High Lifter Shriners Ride.
The first ride took place in 2008. About 600 riders showed up and raised around $10,000 and truckloads of toys. Applebee’s donated food and the park concessions. Since that first ride, High Lifter has raised over $100,000 in cash and donated over 18 truckloads of toys to the Shriners Hospital. “It’s funny,” Smith mentions, “I’ll never forget the first Shriners ride. A lot of the ladies at the local hospital didn’t really know what to expect and we showed up with all that money and all those toys. There were literally tears of joy. It was unbelievable. They say that our annual toy drive we have is the biggest supplier of the toys given to kids in the hospital. So, mud riders are actually making a really big impact on a lot of kids each and every year.
Tracie Engi, High Lifter’s Event Coordinator, says the goal this year is to raise $30,000. “This year is going to be the best year yet,” Engi proclaimed. “We have so many people helping us and so many great sponsors. Polaris has generously donated a Sportsman 450 HO to raffle off and we have also received overwhelming support from other businesses. Applebee’s has stepped up once again is also hosting a pancake breakfast. 100% of the funds raised goes directly to the Shriners. We don’t take ANYTHING out for expenses so if something has to be purchased for the event, High Lifter foots the bill. Everyone that works the event are volunteers. We all work together for the bigger picture, for the kids.”
Poker Run from 11am-2pm: High hand and low hand winners will win $500 gift certificates to Applebee’s.
Treasure Hunt: Participants will find little ornaments that are hidden all over the park and turn them in for prizes. Prizes donated by: Campers RV, Cavenders Boot City, MSA Wheels, Side By Side Stuff, S3 Powersports, High Lifter Products, Inc., Mud Creek Off Road Park, Smitty’s Pizza, Rex Dirks Designs, Warn Industries, and more!
Trail Riding: The park has over 570 acres to ride with trails that are perfect for the first time rider and some more challenging for the experienced rider.
∗Special Appearance by Santa Claus: 9am- Noon∗
RAFFLE: To top it all off, Polaris donated a 2016 Polaris Sportsman 450 HO to be raffled off! Tickets are available at HighLifter.com, by calling High Lifter, at surrounding area Applebee’s, and at the event. YOU DO NOT NEED TO BE PRESENT OR RESIDE NEAR THE EVENT TO WIN! Click here to purchase your raffle tickets!
People from all over the United States helped out last year so if you aren’t able to make it to the event, but would still like to donate, click here! Every little bit helps to keep the smiles on those sweet innocent faces!
“This is something that’s near and dear to my heart,” Smith explains. “There are many charities worthy of support, but my favorites are the ones that support children. Kids aren’t old enough to have done things wrong and live lives of sin like the rest of us. They’re just innocent kids.” -Scott Smith.