Successful Meetings - September 2008 - (Page 30)

Planner Spotlight > Barry Todd 134th Annual Shriners Convention, St. Louis, MO Fez Dispensers There was once a frat boy who liked to have a good time: put on a funny hat, have a few drinks, hang with his brothers—that sort of thing. One day, he woke up and decided to do something serious with his life. This isn’t the story of how George W. Bush became president, but of how the Shriners went from being a feel-good society of fellows in fezzes to a do-good society of fellows in fezzes. Successful Meetings learned it from Barry Todd of the Moolah Shrine in St. Louis, who just finished coordinating business sessions in which members vote on changes in bylaws and elect new officers, including trustees of Shriners hospitals. There are also military-style competitions in which different chapters vie in drum and bugle corps performances, chanting, equestrian drills—even clowning, with clowns judged on makeup, costumes, and acting in skits. And behind it all are the kids. This year’s meeting opened with a motorcycle ride to benefit the Shriners hospitals, and closed with the groundbreaking ceremony for a brand-new hospital on the campus of St. Louis’ Washington University. MISSOURI LOVES COMPANY Planning started about three years out. Todd organized the shebang via a committee structure of about 14 committee chairs, each responsible for a different area. Other important elements were the website (, used to The Shriners have been acting goofy since 1872 and fundraising get the word out to the 191 chapfor hospitals since 1922. ters; the St. Louis CVC; Heritage Exposition Services, and Swank the organization’s 134th annual convention. Audio Visuals. “I can’t say enough about my venFEZZING UP The Ancient Arabic Order of the dors,” says Todd. “We had a lot of last-minute Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, as the Shriners are offichanges to setup and lighting, and it was like anycially known, was founded in 1872 by a group of thing we needed they could make happen.” He’s also New Yorkers, including a physician inspired by a proud of the performance of his hometown: “The Middle Eastern-themed party he’d attended in neatest thing for me was hearing people say how Europe. In 1922, the Shriners decided they needed well they were treated and how much the city has a purpose besides partying and opened a hospital improved since the Shriners last met here, in 1997.” Todd says the secret to successful organizing is in Shreveport, LA, where children with infantile to resist the tendency to control everything and let paralysis, or polio, received free treatment. There go: “It’s all about hiring self-directed people who are now 22 Shriners Hospitals in North America, understand your objectives so they can go forward which specialize in state-of-the-art care for kids with and make things happen,” he says. “You find the orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, right people, give them the parameters, then get and cleft lips and palates. out of their way.” In other words, the Shriners convention isn’t just about guys in red hats riding tiny cars. True, there’s plenty of fun (a Beach Boys concert, and a Cardinals game were on the itinerary for this year’s event in St. Louis), but the meeting’s core is a series of 134TH ANNUAL SHRINERS CONVENTION Dates: June 29-July 3, 2008 Attendance: 12,000-plus Economic impact: $11.5 million Budget of Shriners children’s hospitals: $825 million By Sara J. Welch Does your meeting deserve to be in the Spotlight? Write us at, and you could be profiled in SM. SEPTEMBER 2008 SUCCESSFUL MEETINGS 30

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Successful Meetings - September 2008

Successful Meetings - September 2008
Editor's Note
Industry Trends
Supplier News
Association News
Corporate Meetings
Independent Planners
Management Matters
Meetings Law
Mouth for Sale
Planner Spotlight
On Site
On Site
Tools of the Trade
Where All That Glitters May Bring Gold
Stepping Up in Class
Going for the Green
10 Great Drive-To Destinations
Charter Members
Night at the Museum
Places & Spaces
Charleston and Savannah
Los Angeles
Rocky Mountain Resorts

Successful Meetings - September 2008