Circuses can put a smile on a kid’s face. But when Tehama Shrine hosts a circus, it also can help a kid get to a hospital when they otherwise wouldn’t be able to.
Tehama Shrine brought the circus to Adams County Fairgrounds Tuesday and Wednesday as part of their annual circus tour. Funds and donations from the circus will help support the Shrine’s philanthropic actions. This is the 77th year of the Shrine circus.
“A circus is all about the kids … It’s all about having fun but doing it for the kids,” said Owen Nelson, Tehama Shrine potentate. A potentate is the shrine equivalent of a president.
Shriners help transport children to one of 22 Shriner hospitals and provides lodging and meals for traveling family. The Tehama Shrine usually takes kids to hospitals in Minneapolis, Minnesota, or Salt Lake City, Utah, whichever is closer.
“It’s a huge benefit to children, especially for the families that can’t pay,” Nelson said.
The Tehama Shrine helps over 100 children per year, he said. The Shrine’s transportation budget is over $100,000 and local sponsors help ease the cost putting on the circus.
“The only requirement (for assistance) is, ‘Can we improve the life of a child?’ ” said Ron Nielsen, Tehama Shrine recorder.
This year, the circus included juggling — of the hand and foot variations, with flaming pins and spool; quick-change artists; a dog and horse show; and the “motorcycle globe of death,” among other acts.
Tehama Shrine works with an independent circus organizer to bring professional actors to cities and towns in Nebraska.
The Shriners started their annual circus circuit in 1942, 24 years after the Tehama Shrine’s founding. The Shrine is a branch of Freemasony, the largest international fraternal organization.
“The Shrine started as the fun side of being a Mason,” Nelson said.
The Tehama Shrine is one of three Shrine centers in Nebraska. Sesostris is in Lincoln, Tangier is in Omaha and Tehama is based in Hastings.
The circus also will be in Ord May 24 and Broken Bow May 28.
Tehama Shrine continues its fundraising plans with the Shrine Bowl, one of the bigger of its fundraisers, this weekend in Kearney, Nelson said.