The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

Haunting becomes helping when people raise money for Shriners Hospital

From 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023, families dressed up to support Shriners Hospital for Children and to enjoy Halloween festivities.

A cow, a pirate, a video game hero: a colorful cast of costumes marched through The Garden at Elm Bank.

From 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023, participants of the Boston Haunted Walk huddled and walked together as they attended the event to support Shriners Hospitals for Children, a nonprofit organization that provides specialty medical care for patients, regardless of their ability to pay or insurance status. Over $445,000 was raised to be used to help fund pediatric burn care, reconstructive plastic surgery and cleft lip and palate care at the hospital.

Along the way, volunteer Candy Bowe handed out spooky stickers to the passing participants. Bowe said this was her fourth year participating in the Boston Haunted Walk and the atmosphere of this event is worth being a part of each year.

“[I enjoy] seeing all the kids’ smiling faces, seeing the families who have been helped by Shriners and seeing all the people that are helping out to help these kids,” Bowe said. “I love seeing the costumes. I love the area, it’s beautiful. It’s nice to get out in the fresh air and to see everybody with different abilities all out here working together for one cause.”

Many of the families at the event currently or previously had their children cared for by the hospital. Participant Jacki Holcomb’s daughter, Emily, was a patient at the hospital in 2019. As many participants did, Holcomb helped raise funds at the event as appreciation for the care the hospital provided to her child.

“When Emily was being treated at Shriners, I thought the entire staff and hospital was just so amazing. We really wanted a way to give back and stay connected,” Holcomb said. “Going through [treatment] is really difficult, and everybody associated with Shriners was just so wonderful to us.”

George Gorton, Shriners’ Market Director of the Northeast Region, said this event is significant since it invites everyone to have fun and gives exposure to the work the hospital does.

“This kind of an event is really important because it brings people together and the community to learn about Shriners, to know about burn awareness, like the table that I’m at, but also to come over, socialize and have a great fun time outside,” Gorton said. “I’m really blessed to be a part of this kind of an event.”

Participant Joe Scott added that it’s important to engage participants and that the Halloween spirit helps accomplish this.

“It’s fun for me. I dress up each year. This year we got the majority of the unit members to dress up because it’s Halloween. For the kids, costumes are great. It gets everyone involved and you can have fun,” Scott said. “It’s a community effort. With everyone working together, we can help. Every little bit counts. We’re doing our part; we show up and participate, we raise money, everything.”

Doctor Robert Sheridan at Shriners Hospitals for Children said the event means more than just fundraising.

“It’s not really about raising money for me. It’s really kind of a celebration of getting better,” Sheridan said. “I think it’s reflective for the families to see where they’ve been and how far they’ve come.”

Senior Director of Philanthropy at Shriners Hospital for Children Shiva Damghany organized the event with co-chairs: Peter Rondeau, Stephanie McCarthy, Nathan Griggs, Jenny Griggs, Scarlett Griggs and Daniel Griggs. She said participating in and preparing the event has been some of the most fulfilling work in her life.

“It’s a joy for me to see all these families come together, all the Shriners come together and our supporters come together,” Damghany said. “It really is the most gratifying work that I’ve ever done in my life, so I’m really happy that I get to celebrate what we do at Shriners every day with everyone on a Halloween day like today.”

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