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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Circus raises $70,000 for sports medicine program at Shriners Hospital for Children in Spokane

UPDATED: Mon., May 9, 2022

Treatment for kids who suffer sports injuries will get a boost thanks to last month’s El Katif Shrine Circus.

The circus, which included 15 performances over two weekends under a big tent in the parking lot of Spokane Valley Mall, raised $70,000 for the Shriners Hospital for Children in Spokane. The money was presented in a ceremony Monday morning at the hospital, 911 W. Fifth Ave.

The donation will be used for the hospital’s sports medicine and health program, said Peter Brewer, the hospital’s administrator. The new program began at the hospital last year.

“Spokane is a very sports-minded community,” Brewer said. “We saw there really was a need.”

The hospital employs five pediatric orthopedic surgeons, including one who specializes in sports medicine.

The Spokane hospital performed about 1,000 surgeries in 2021. It also hosted about 17,000 outpatient visits.

Although the hospital charges those who have medical insurance, those who don’t have coverage receive care free of charge.

“If you come in here and you don’t have insurance, we will take care of you,” Brewer said.

Clay Hatch’s daughter, Jillian Hatch, is a junior at Lewis and Clark High School who broke her ankle playing softball last year. The family decided to take her to Shriners because of the hospital’s focus on juvenile orthopedics, Clay Hatch said.

“She needed care and we were able to get in the next day,” Hatch said.

Jillian Hatch got a cast and received physical therapy at Shriners. She’s fully healed and back playing sports, her father said. The family has insurance, but they had no out-of-pocket costs.

About 25,000 people attended the circus this year, said Jim Stewart, El Katif’s circus chairman.

El Katif Potentate Justin Hughes said the Shrine decided to increase the number of circus performances this year to raise more money for the hospital in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Shrine and 100th anniversary of the Shrine’s hospital system. Last year, El Katif raised $38,000 for the hospital through the circus.

There are 642 members of El Katif in Eastern Washington, Hughes said. The group’s two main fundraisers for the hospital are the circus and annual Duck Race on the Spokane River. Tickets for the Duck Race cost $5 and are sold at large community events, including the Spokane County Fair and Hoopfest. The race, which has a $10,000 grand prize, will be held Sept. 25 near the First Interstate Center for the Arts.

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