Special to Transcontinental Media —
Top class pro dragsters barrelling down asphalt at over a hundred miles an hour is not the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of Shriners fundraisers.
For most of us, the Shriners conjure up images of the iconic hats and community parades, not helmets and race tracks.
But that’s how Bruno does it.
His name is actually Glen Bradley, but he prefers to go by Bruno, and since moving to the area two years ago he’s become known as a businessman. He owns three different enterprises in Grand Falls-Windsor, including Ibex Fuels.
But first and foremost, Bruno says he’s a Shriner, and proud of it.
Originally from the Yukon, he has lived all over, from the United States to Africa. No matter where he is, being a Shriner is a big part of his life.
When he came to Grand Falls-Windsor from Alberta, it was no different.
“When I first moved here it was just myself and my wife and we were doing stuff own our own,” he said. “The Shrine Club in Botwood wasn’t even there then, we were just doing our own thing, trying to raise money and run raffles.”
Now Bruno is a member of the Shawnadithit Shrine Club in Botwood, but he still dances to the beat of his own drum with his many fundraising endeavours.
And the reason he does it is for the Shriners Children’s Hospitals.
There are 22 Shriners hospitals in North America — 20 in the United States, one in Mexico and one in Quebec.
Their specialized services include orthopedics, burn care and spinal cord surgery. They are entirely needs based and open to anyone under the age of 18.
“Every single thing (Shriners Hospitals) do is 100 per cent paid for. We fly out the parents, we look after the children, we feed the parents, we get them hotel rooms, and it’s free to any of the patients,” said Bruno.
“It’s non-denominational — it doesn’t matter what race, creed or colour you are, we’re all human beings.”
Bruno said there’s a huge need for services for children across North America, and he knows of several children in the Grand Falls-Windsor area who have received care from Shriners Hospitals.
High-quality care facilities cost a lot of money, and Bruno says the Shriners must raise millions and millions of dollars every year to keep them going.
One of the things he does to raise money is drag racing.
There are several drag strips in the province including the Thunder Valley Speedway in Bishop’s Falls and the Clarenville Dragway — which holds racing events every other week in the summer with the opportunity to win hefty prizes.
“The fastest dragsters on the planet are built and run in Newfoundland, this is a hot spot for drag racing,” said Bruno.
“You have Skagit County, Washington, (which) is really big now for drag racing. There’s a part outside of Phoenix that’s really big, and then you have the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland, Canada.”
Bruno said Ibex Fuels has one car in the making and two cars racing with two drivers, including Bruno’s own super pro top class dragster, which he picked up last fall. Since then he has raced it across the Maritimes and is planning for another big summer.
His car has a lot of donated parts, but cars like his can cost up to $70,000. All the expenses for the Ibex cars are paid out of pocket by the owners, while every single cent of winnings goes to the Shriners Hospitals.
Bruno also uses the car as a tool to open dialogue about the Shriners work. At a local trade show a couple weeks ago, for example, he brought his car in for people to look at and sit behind the wheel, but the conversations started were all about the Shriners Hospital.
“This is just another thing. You can get so many people talking, (at the trade show) I don’t know how many people came through that booth,” he said. “And I had a chance to tell them that everything we do no matter how big or how little out of this car goes to the Shrine.”
Bruno doesn’t just race to raise money for the Shriners. Between his three businesses he almost always has something going on, whether it’s raffling a signed Gretzky jersey at a trade show, which he did this month, or a Mosquito Magnet out of his store. Everything he raffles off he buys himself, and every cent from the raffles goes straight to the Shriners Hospitals.
“There’s not a certain portion there of goes to administration or for expenses,” he said. “Even printing the tickets is donated (by local people).”
He has set up a dumping station for RVs at Ibex Fuels for the camping season. The price? A $2 donation to Shriners Hospitals.
Bruno has also set up a small community centre area at the back of Ibex Fuels which he rents to groups for free, but when they want to say thanks, Bruno insists they donate to the Shriners.
“I don’t like to be in the forefront, I’m in the background making the money,” he said. “I go get the ball, hand it to the boys and say run with it.”
Bruno said philanthropy has become an important part of the way he lives his life, and moving to Grand Falls-Windsor has given him more of an opportunity to be a role model for his son.
“I’m not in any way, shape or form a religious person but I have a certain number of morals I live my life by and they’re fairly strict …,” said Bruno.
“It’s so important that we have people looking after people. We have a moral and social responsibility as businessmen and as leaders of our community to look after our community.”
When asked why he decided to run his life and businesses the way he does, Bruno smiles.
“I’m a Shriner. There is no other way for me to do business.”