For the first time in 24 years, the Rameses Shriners will take their miniature cars to Sudbury's roads for their Spring Ceremonial Parade.
The parade is part of the Shriners' national Odyssey tour, meant to raise awareness about the Shriners Hospital in Montreal and promote an ongoing fundraising campaign to complete a new, larger hospital in that city.
“If you like parades, please come out and see our parade, because it will be there for everyone,” said Raymond Causton, a member and past potentate of the Rameses Shriners.
The parade will start at 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 14, and will take place mostly on Notre Dame Avenue.
It will feature more than 100 clowns, marching bands, a number of floats, and, of course, Shriners driving their miniature cars.
The Odyssey car, a sports utility vehicle, with the recognizable Shriners fez on its roof, will be near the front of the parade.
Gemma Bélanger, a spokesperson for Canada's only Shriners Hospital in Montreal, said the organization has raised $115 million so far to build a new hospital by the fall of 2015.
The target for the new hospital, which will feature 207,000 square feet of space with the latest technology to provide specialized orthopedic care for children, is $130 million.
“We're a national hospital,” said Bélanger.
Young patients from across Canada are referred to the Shriners Hospital for complex orthopedic surgeries that can be provided in few other institutions.
Tanya Quesnel's Sudbury doctor referred her to the hospital when she was seven so she could receive a dorsal rhizotomy – a back surgery meant to reduce the spasticity that comes from cerebral palsy.
Quesnel, who is now 17, said the surgery changed her life.
“If I wouldn't have had the surgery, I would be in a wheelchair today,” she said.
Quesnel is able to walk with the support of two canes.
Jurnee Parisotto-Charron, 16, was also referred to the Shriners hospital from Sudbury. When she was 12, Parisotto-Charron was admitted for a spinal fusion to help treat her scoliosis.
Doctors at the Shriners Hospital installed metal rods to straighten her spine.
Since her surgery, Parisotto-Charron has been able to resume her karate training, and recently won a gold medal at the Ontario Summer Games.
She said she hopes Saturday's parade can bring more attention to the hospital.