Wichita's first holiday concert of the season is Saturday night. The 5th Annual Shriner's Christmas Express concert at the Orpheum Theater features top area musicians, including one who works with American Idol.
The proceeds benefit the Shriner's Hospitals for Children and the Midian Shrine Transportation Fund. So, Shriner's say you can change lives just by buying a ticket and attending.
26-year-old Jarrett Perry of Wichita knows that first hand.
"I lost my leg when I was two days old," Perry said.
Jarrett and his brother were born with Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome. It's a disease in which one child receives more blood than the other through the placenta. To prevent further infection, Jarrett's leg was amputated.
He would need multiple expensive prosthetic legs. That would be a difficult task for the family whose insurance only covered one leg for Jarrett's entire life.
That's when his grandfather, a Shriner, hooked him up with a lifeline.
"It would have been a large financial burden for my family, so Shriner's really came through for us," Perry said.
From age six months to nine years old, Shriner's paid for Jarrett's transportation from Wichita to the Shriner's Hospital for Children in St. Louis. They also helped him to get new legs as he grew, just as parents constantly buy their children new pairs of shoes as they age.
"I was a normal kid growing up because I had decent fitting legs that were readily available to me," Perry said.
With the legs available, his parents raised Jarrett to be active. He began swimming, and in his teens, he'd make it to the Paralympic Games. He won Gold in 2004. He retired from swimming in 2010.
After graduating from Wichita State this year, he now has his sights set on medical school.
"I feel that going in and out of the hospital for surgery, going in to get my legs fitted, has rubbed off on me," Perry said.
Going there all those years was made possible by the Shriners.
"I firmly believe that I would not be the person I am today without the assistance I got at that young age," Perry said.
Now, he's returning the favor. Four weeks ago, Perry became a Shriner himself.
"As a member now, I'd like to go up to the hospital where I spent so much time as a youngster and just give back," Perry said.
Perry will be featured at the concert.
All proceeds benefit the Shriner's Hospitals for Children and the Midian Shrine Transportation Fund.
Tickets are $20 and can be purchased through Select-A-Seat, online at www.selectaseat.com. You can also purchase them by phone at 316.755.7328. Or you make a purchase in person at Dillon's Superstores, the Orpheum Theatre, Nelson Designs and Midian Shrine Temple.
Visit the Midian Shrine Center on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/Midian.Shrine.Center