Wednesday, September 12, 2012
A.F. Green of Harrison holds the local record for his 300,000-plus miles of driving area children in need of medical care to Shriner hospitals.
“I wasn’t in it for the mileage or the glory,” said Green. “I was in it to help the children. I took a lot of children to the hospital in the ’70s and the ’80s. They would walk up to me later when I was selling candy and say, ‘I remember you ... you helped me.’”
He said moments like that make getting up at 3 a.m. to prep for a trip worth it. The trips typically depart from the Alhambra Shrine Temple in East Brainerd at 5 a.m. He said the patients receive free meals, travel and medical care courtesy of the shrine.
Green said being a Shriner is a family tradition that his father passed on to him.
“My daddy was a Shriner in the ’40s and ’50s when they went on trains, in buses and Shriners took personal cars,” said Green. “My dad was A.F. Red Green. I went on a trip one time with him on a bus to take children when I was a boy. I began driving in the spring of 1977 until now. I’ve made 350 trips. Shriners are here to help the children.”
Shriners transport patients ages birth up to 18 to a burn hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio, and to an orthopedic hospital in Lexington, Ky. He said Shriners sell candy and host a circus to have the funds necessary to help the children.
“I’ve carried children in my arms to the hospitals,” said Green, who is a retired truck driver. “It’s a blessing to see how the hospital doctors heal the children. I’ve taken hundreds of children to hospitals. We used to take 40 passengers per trip. I’ve always been proud to be a Shriner.”
Green taught drivers in the Alhambra Bus Unit for 16 years. Now the shrine has a fleet of vans.
Fellow Alhambra Shrine driver Roy Browning of East Brainerd, also a retired truck driver, has been driving patients to hospitals for 11 years.
“I’ve driven 75,000 miles to Lexington,” he said. “I’ve made 55 trips to Cincinnati too.”
He said a roundtrip to Lexington is 535 miles and a trip to Cincinnati is 735 miles.
Browning joined the Alhambra Shrine in 2000. He fondly remembers taking two twin boys in leg braces to the hospital that needed help. The boys’ grandmother rode in the van too.
“Many times when you first pick up a kid, they can’t walk and need to be carried,” said Browning. “Then, later on, you see them walking, and the next thing you know you see them in a wheelchair or using crutches. Then, you see them walking and the next thing you know you see them running.”
Browning said once the children arrive at the hospital they don’t want to leave. They are admitted into rooms titled things like the Kangaroo Room, the Rabbit Room and the Elephant Room with characters painted on the wall.
Browning also takes part in the Alhambra Clown Unit.