The Shrine Bowl of 2003.

25 Nov

Ten years ago, as I was riding back from one of my weekly physical therapy sessions with my mom, I received a phone call informing me I had been nominated to be the Shrine Bowl Queen. At the time, I wasn’t sure what being a Shrine Bowl Queen meant, and I didn’t know there was a football game that took place every year in the Carolinas hosted by the Shriners.

As months went by following that first phone call, I received more phone calls informing me I was a finalist and finally that I had been chosen as the Shrine Bowl Queen for the Shrine Bowl of 2003. I didn’t know what to think. I was excited, obviously. However, I was confused as to how I’d been chosen. Apparently, as I later learned, I had been one of the few girls who had been chosen out of the thousands of patients who had been in and out of Shriner’s Hospital for Kids in Greenville, SC, over the past year. Though sometimes it still blows my mind that I was picked out of all the others girls that year, I’m proud. I was chosen because I had stood out. However, for once, I didn’t stand out because of my disability (since the majority of the kids at Shriner’s were disabled too). I stood out because someone saw me as one of the patients at Shriner’s who had faced a lot, but was still able to have a smile on her face and a lively laugh despite the pain.

Being named “the Shrine Bowl Queen” involved attending two required events. The first event was a parade that took place in Myrtle Beach, SC, in which I rode on a float (along with the Shrine Bowl King) to support the Shriners and the Shrine Bowl game that would take place in the Spring. The second event was the Shrine Bowl itself. Though I don’t remember the outcome of the football game, I remember being so incredibly nervous, but also extremely excited. As time passed during the first quarter, I knew the chance to make my appearance was getting closer and closer. Part of being the Shrine Bowl Queen (or King) involves going onto the football field during halftime of the Shrine Bowl to release a dove into the air. During this time, both the king and the queen each receive a trophy with their name engraved as well as a football that is signed by all the Shrine Bowl players of that year. Though I was excited about having the opportunity to walk out onto the field with the Shriners to release a dove, the thought of being in front of so many people gave me huge knots in my stomach. However, despite the nervousness, I knew that I would walk out onto that field. After all, I had been chosen as the Shrine Bowl Queen for the Shrine Bowl of 2003. With all references of having a disability aside, that isn’t an opportunity that you simply walk away from.

I guess you could say that the Shrine Bowl of 2003 was one of the highlights of my time at Shriner’s Hospital for Kids. Though there were definitely some other exciting times that were connected with getting closer and closer to independence, the majority of those memories were layered with months of physical pain. However, the Shrine Bowl of 2003 didn’t include any kind of pain: physical or emotional. It just served as a day which now signifies that I was a patient at Shriner’s Hospital for Children, and I was a prime example of a girl who endured. Though there are definitely numerous moments now in which I’m able to look back on all that I have overcome, being chosen to be the Shrine Bowl Queen of 2003 was evidence that I wasn’t the only one who was able to recognize all that I had endured. Doctors, physical therapists, nurses, and others at Shriner’s who were responsible with making the Shrine Bowl Queen nominations knew it as well. They probably knew it long before I even saw myself as someone who could smile and laugh despite the continued presence of pain in my life.

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6 Responses to “The Shrine Bowl of 2003.”

  1. Caitlin Pereiras (@SoCallMeCaity) November 25, 2012 at 10:07 pm #

    I love this post! I was also a Shriner’s kid, though I went to the hospital in Philly. We never did anything as cool as a Shrine Bowl, but I did get sort of nostalgic for my times at Shriner’s camp while reading this post.

    So glad you have gotten so far in life despite the pain. Your blog is awesome 🙂

    • ameliaclaire92 November 25, 2012 at 10:10 pm #

      It’s good to meet a fellow Shriner’s kid. 🙂 We didn’t have Shriner’s camp, but the Shrine Bowl was such an amazing experience for me. Thanks so much for reading. 🙂

  2. gacochran November 26, 2012 at 9:02 am #

    Thanks for this story and for your endurance…I’m sure an inspiration to many – even to those of which you may not be aware. As someone who grew up in a small SC town near Greenville, this post took me back to Shrine Bowl memories. Thanks.

  3. Julia Dean-Richards November 26, 2012 at 5:16 pm #

    It’s so good to travel with you, Amelia x

    • ameliaclaire92 November 26, 2012 at 7:54 pm #

      Thank you! I appreciate having you along on the journey. 🙂

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