The Illinois High School s Shrine All-Star Game is one of the most humbling experiences a high school athlete can take part in during his career. This game is a way for young athletes to learn about the Shriners and also to see how they function in our society. We as athletes learned how to be role models for young children stricken with diseases and gained the experience of being a part of something more than just a football game.
As athletes, we spent a day visiting the Shriners Hospital in Chicago. While at the hospital, the football players were given the opportunity to interact with many of the patients by playing wheelchair basketball along with other games with them. This was a moving and eye-opening situation for many of us. It emphasized to all of us the true value of coming to the aid of others in need. I feel that the experience not only gave the children a fun break from their realities but also taught us that we could play an important role in the lives of others. The patients at the hospital look up to and admire all of the athletes. We all gained a confidence and a sense of responsibility from spending time with these fantastic young children.
As a Shriner myself, I had the advantage of knowing what the Shriners were about and how the hospital functioned before I arrived, but the experience had a much more profound effect on me and is one that I will never forget. It costs about $110,000 to run our Chicago hospital a day to treat these children regardless of their ability to pay. The money that the hospital uses comes from many generous and devoted donors, who include people from many different walks of life with the same goal in mind: To come to the aid of others in their time of need. This lesson alone has made a huge impact on the lives of many high school football players, and I personally believe that we all are better people for having the opportunity to be a part of the Illinois High School Shrine All-Star Football Game.