Shriners celebrate poster child

Elliot Crabtree with his father and mother, Josh and Angela Crabtree.

Members of the Avery Lodge No. 593 in Lenoir City gathered Thursday to honor Elliot Crabtree as the Kerbela Shriners 2020 poster child.

“So each individual area, for us it’d be the Knoxville area, chooses one child that utilizes the services of a Shriner hospital, so Elliot, this year, is the poster child,” Jeremy Dishner, former local Avery Lodge president, said. “He’s from Loudon County, so that’s what makes it a big deal for us.

“In addition to that, Elliot’s dad, Josh, is also a Mason and a Shriner, so that’s kind of a cool aspect that makes it super important for us,” he added.

Doctors diagnosed Elliot with arthrogryposis, or AMC, and by the time he was “44 days old, he had already had a couple surgeries,” Angela Crabtree, Elliot’s mother, said.

AMC is a condition in which multiple joints are limited in their range of motion as if they are stuck.

“There was really no plan,” she said. “Nobody around here really knew about AMC. … Some other AMC parents that live all over the United States said you just got to go to a Shriners so we found one that had a specialist in South Carolina.”

Shriners covers all of the costs for Elliot’s braces and surgeries. In December, Josh Crabtree, Elliot’s father, became a member of the Kerbela Shriners in Knoxville.

The Kerbela Shriners help Elliot and his family with travel, whether that means driving them to South Carolina or providing them with means of travel and a place to stay if it will be a longer visit.

“Basically, everything the Shriners do is to raise money for the Shriners hospital,” Dishner said.

The majority of the money is raised through the Kerbela Shriners’ annual “paper sale,” which this year will have a section highlighted for Elliot’s story. The paper sale runs May 10-17. Another way the Shriners raise their money is through the Shriner Circus that comes through Knoxville in the fall.

“The thing that they offer that a lot of places can’t is doctors that specialize in Elliot, doctors who know AMC,” Angela said. “We’re just with them every step of the way with Elliot. They’re always checking on us and giving us new ideas and teaching us how to adapt things for him. So they’re just, honestly, they’re good people that know it all, that help us figure it out. ... This is a serious job, almost. You have to be really committed, and it’s a lot of work. But it’s a lot of fun.”

Dishner believes Elliot’s family will help tell his story as they travel around.

“They’ll have posters that they’ll print up, then he’ll appear at the different Masonic lodges, as well as normally they go to the circus, which is normally in October, and they’ll be special guests there,” he said.

“Elliot has a lot of friends. He has a Facebook page called ‘Elliot’s Story,’ and there’s about 700 people on there. He’s a very social child. … He’s at the perfect age where he really enjoys this,” Crabtree added.