SPRINGFIELD — For the last 13 years, the Melha Shriners Riders have organized their annual Hospital Run to benefit the Shriners Hospitals for Children – Springfield. This event draws hundreds of motorcycle riders and fans together for a one-hour ride through Western Mass. followed by a gathering and celebration.
This year, the coronavirus outbreak presented a new challenge, and although the Riders want to get together, the need to safely be apart is even greater. Due to the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions mandated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Melha Riders have made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s Hospital Run, originally scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 16. While they are disappointed, they believe it’s in the best interest of the supporters, riders, and fans.
“We know how much everyone who joins us every year will be disappointed,” said Nick Athas, first vice president for 2020. “But the additional time to plan the next year’s run will go a long way in assuring that it will be the best ever. We greatly appreciate everyone’s support and understanding and look forward to riding again on the third Sunday in August 2021.”
When asked why they do the annual Hospital Run, Stephen Brault, Melha Riders president for 2020, said that, “as Freemasons, we acknowledge that true charity is the greatest gift that you can give back to humanity. We do it for every patient and parent that says, ‘my kid walks because of the work you guys do,’ or that their burns were healed, or their cleft lip and palate was repaired and they now live a better life, and for all the future services that our hospitals will provide.”
To date, more than $320,000 has been raised to help the hospital’s programs. For those who would still like to contribute to support the hospital, donations can be sent to Annual Hospital Run c/o Shriners Hospitals for Children, 516 Carew St., Springfield, MA 01104. Checks should be made out to ‘Shriners Hospitals for Children – Springfield’ and include ‘Hospital Run’ in the memo section of the check.