The third annual SOS (Support Our Shriners) Bash is slated for this Saturday with its biggest fund raising goal yet.
With all proceeds going directly to the Shriners Hospital for Children in Greenville each year, the SOS BASH has proven successful for the past two years. Last year’s SOS Bash raised $17,000 for the Shriners hospital, and together with the totals from the 2010 SOS Bash, as well as online donations, the SOS team has raised close to $27,000 for the hospital.
Those involved have raised the bar this year, however, with a fund raising goal of $30,000.
The bash will take place this Saturday at Shady’s beginning at 8 p.m., with the theme being a “Tiki Party.” The SOS Bash 2012 Facebook event page asks everyone to wear their coolest Hawaiian shirt, muumuu, grass skirt, etc. Keeping with SOS Bash tradition, the event will include special lighting and decor by Ambient Media. Professional event photography and an area for photo opportunities will be provided by photographer Billy Liner.
The headline act for this year’s bash is the Ca$h Money Band, a four-member group that plays a variety of music including beach music, R&B, Motown, top 40 and more. Those involved say this band is sure to get attendees out on the dance floor.
Saturday’s event will open with a performance by former Shriners Hospital patient Angel Heaven Lee. Born without arms and only one leg, Lee remembers being distraught upon learning that she would have to leave her kindergarten friends at Windsor Lake Elementary after her parents bought a house outside the district. It was around the time of Christmas holidays, and her class sang “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” as a departing gift. As tears flowed from her eyes, Lee impulsively began singing along with them.
“I was still sad, but singing somehow released me that day,” she said. “That was the first time I knew the healing power of music.”
She has been singing ever since, despite disabilities, surgeries and illnesses. Angel has become a hit on Youtube, and she contacted, visited, bonded and sang with America’s Got Talent sensation Susan Boyle, who has been supportive of Angel’s singing career.
SOS is a dedicated team of people who organize events to raise money and awareness to benefit the Shriners Hospital for Children. The organization was founded by Union native Joe Bates, who holds the hospital very close to his heart as he was once a patient there.
In 1980, Bates — then age 13 — was severely burned when the fumes from a gas can were ignited by a nearby water heater pilot light, causing an explosion. Unaware of what had happened, Bates was trapped inside a utility room until his best friend — Kevin Silvers — heard the explosion, ran to the room and pulled Bates to safety, using a hose to extinguish the flames still on his body.
Bates experienced burns on 90 percent of his body, and his parents were told by doctors that his survival through the weekend was unlikely. Bates was then taken to the Shriners Burn Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he stayed for nine months. After multiple skin graft operations, intensive care and therapy, Bates was finally released to go home. He lost most of his fingers on both hands and his right foot had to be amputated due to infection. He continued to have reconstructive surgery for nine years, adding up to more than 100 surgeries in all. At age 16, after spending three years in a wheelchair, Bates finally learned to walk again after additional reconstructive surgery at The Shriners Hospital for Children in Greenville.
Despite the amputation of his fingers, Bates still plays guitar, piano and sings. Because of the quality care he received from the Shriners Hospitals, Bates — along with his wife, Erin, and his children, Luke and Josie — volunteer to organize fundraisers to benefit the hospital.
“Because of the Shriners I was able to overcome those adversities,” he said. “Any kid I’ve ever met coming out of these hospitals goes on to do some amazing things and live happy, productive lives.”
Bates believes the Shriners Hospital for Children offers a unique brand of health care for children from around the Upstate. He pointed out that there are currently approximately 30-40 children from Union County who are currently being treated at the hospital.
“Those children need a special type of care and the Shriners have figured it out,” he said. “The kids have smiles on their faces and in their hearts despite being in body casts or severely burned. The Shriners focus on the child’s spirit in addition to their physical challenges.”
To learn more about Shriners Hospitals for Children, visit www.shrinershospitalsforchildren.org. For ticket information regarding Saturday’s SOS Bash at Shady’s, call (864) 429-4688.