The James Valley Shrine Club has hosted the circus in Huron
since 1964. Once again it will be at the Huron Arena on April 2 with
two great shows at 2:00pm and 6:00pm.
Dave Peterson, area Shriner, says that “the James Valley Shrine Club’s commitment to helping kids is what they are really all about.” So, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the funds raised from the circus every year go to support Shriners Hospitals for Children.
The closest hospital is in Minneapolis which is where one local young man has spent plenty of time. Six-year-old Alex Atkins was born with a condition called arthrogryposis multiplex congenita. This meant that at birth Alex’s joints were permanently fixed in bent or straightened positions restricting his movement.
“We started going to the Shriners Hospital when he was two months old,” said Alex’s mother Tiffany Lawrence. When he was four months old he had surgery “snipping” the muscles above his knees to help him bend his legs. Nearly a year later he had another surgery on his feet. “They told me that he was never going to be able to walk,” Lawrence added. “Then, only eleven months later, he just started walking! He is a very determined and independent kid.” Peterson says that’s what makes him so fond of Alex. “I drove him to the hospital several times. To get to know him, to see him grow and the accomplishments he has made is truly remarkable.”
Alex realizes that he’s different, but it definitely doesn’t seem to bother him. “Sometimes he gets frustrated that he can’t do certain things like other kids do,” said Lawrence. “But he always figures out his own way.”
Adjustments have been made for Alex to be successful in school and he will have to have additional surgeries in the future. In the meantime, Alex and his family thoroughly enjoy what life has to offer, including his love of trains (thus his conductors hat) and of course, they attend the circus every year. His favorite part? “The snake! Oh, and the toys, and the cotton candy.” Alex and his family are grateful for the opportunities they have been given by the Shriners and all involved in supporting kids like him.