Seated to Standing. The Story of The Machine. (The Shriners)
From Bro Josh is a Master Mason from Texas, Lumberton Lodge #1430
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Josh I am a newly raised Master Mason at my lodge as of 23/7/19 and just turned in the work as of 13/8/19. I am currently 25.
My interest in Freemasonry began much younger than most at the age of 11. You see I was born with a condition known as Cerebral Palsy with a moderate severity level that affected my legs and balance. Because of this I was never able to really walk. I was a very melancholy anti social person with me always having to be in a wheelchair or try hopping in crutches. I got made fun of and bullied often.
My parents helped me find soap box derby and join the special division for the disabled. That first year I placed 2nd among the entire division with a very heated set of races between me and the 1st place finisher. We talked a bit afterward and I discovered he was like me. He had the same disability that affected him similarly but he could walk. I asked him why he could walk and I couldn't. This was the first time I heard of the Shriners Hospitals for children.
Months pass as 11 year old me in 2005 continues to look up information on this group of hospitals. I discovered many things including that the Shriners were Masons. One day I had a very bad day and my grandad called me and told me out of the blue that one day I was going to walk and that I would do something great. He passed a week later in December of 2005 without warning in his sleep. 3 months later in March I had my surgery at the Shriners Hospital in Shreveport.
Two years passed as I was recovering for this surgery I went through and I finally took my first legitimate steps at the age of 13. I trained and worked hard to be completely independent in my mobility. Years later I never forgot what those Shriners and the hospital did for me and who they were. I began to look heavily into joining masonry at the age of 18. Eventually at 24 one of my good friends and a former co-worker got me a petition and I was Initiated. This same year I became an endurance athlete and distance runner training to be one of the very few with my condition and possibly the only one with my severity level to complete a full marathon and have my name written as an official finisher.
I've done two official 5ks and have a 10k in November. I train everyday running on my forearm crutches and this is when people in the community started calling me "The Machine." Because I just keep going and going for several miles a day. I became a mason so that I could give back to the community and help children like me have the same opportunity I was given.
Masonry gave me the greatest gift in my life before I even knew what it was and now I get the joy of paying it forward the same way.