This Shriner is parade bound

Published 1:56 am Friday, April 18, 2003

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Larry Saunders, who has lived in Niles since 1947, has always wanted to drive a little car in a parade.
With the help of Neil Hannewyk, president and CEO of NCP Coatings Inc. in Niles, and Greg Hover, NCP purchasing manager, that has now become a reality.
NCP Coatings makes industrial coating materials and has been in Niles since 1945. Their products include industrial-type paint, which they sell to the military and a variety of manufacturers.
A couple of weeks ago, the pair donated a small car to Saunders, a retired 63-year-old Orek Shrine, Michigan City, Ind., member, who volunteers his time to the Shriners and transports injured children to Shriners' Hospitals for Children in Chicago and Cincinnati.
NCP Coatings will also donate use of their corporate aircraft to the Shriners for the most severe victims, and Hannewyk himself will fly the plane when needed.
Saunders, who has known Hannewyk and Hover for more than 40 years, said making himself visible in parades by driving the little car is his effort to raise awareness of the work the Shriners and Shriners Hospitals for Children do.
The Shrine of North America is an international fraternity of approximately 500,000 members throughout the United States, Mexico, Canada and Panama.
The Shrine's official philanthropy is Shriners Hospitals for Children, a network of 22 hospitals that provide expert, no-cost orthopaedic and burn care to all children under 18, regardless of race, religion or relationship to a Shriner.
Saunders, who before his retirement four years ago had sold sporting goods for 23 years, has since started volunteering for Shriners. He has made more than 100 trips with victims to the Shriners Hospitals
These days he makes two to three trips a month with victims.
When Saunders volunteers for the Shrine, he must wear a red Fez hat, which is part of the Shriners uniform, he said.
The red hat is also worn during parades, which the Shriners often participate in, he said.
Saunders said people who have benefitted from the care provided at a Shriner hospital will recognize his hat and thank him for his Shriner volunteer work.
Providing free medical care today, however, is getting costly, Saunders said.
He hopes by making people more aware of what the organization does, more people will donate money toward helping injured children.
On May 18, Saunders will take the little car to Lexington, Ky., and the Shriners Hospital there.
His wife is making him a clown suit and he will drive around for the kids down there.
Anyone wanting to have a look at the little car can visit A and J on South 11th St., where it will be displayed when not in use.