The Story of the Sudan Cruisers
It started with an idea and a desire to form a go-cart unit in the Fayetteville area. In June 2010, Tom Shirland, founder and financier of what is now known as the Sudan Cruisers, purchased 11 used amusement park go-carts.
By September 2010, Noble Tom petitioned the Sudan Shrine Board of Directors and presented a conceptual plan for the unit’s operation, and purpose. The proposal was unanimously approved and new unit status was granted by the Board of Directors. The Charter was granted to the Sudan Cruisers on September 11, 2010.
Recruiting for the new unit was immediate and successful. Seven Nobles responded to the call and the Cruisers began to take shape. The charter members agreed that the Cruisers would first and foremost “ride” in parades. They would seek every opportunity to find parades that would provide donations so the Cruisers could in turn donate to the Shriner’s Burned and Crippled Children’s Hospitals. During the early discussions and first parades our motto became “We Ride So They Can Walk.”
It should be noted that the Cruisers imposed several sanctions on themselves that are still true today: Cruisers don’t drink while participating in parades, they will be in uniform, carts will be cleaned and maintained and unit members will commit to ride in practices and parades.
The operational condition and refurbishing of the carts was another story. Noble Tom had every cart painted to specification. He literally took orange and green hulks and transformed them into sleek, beautiful red bodies. Tom’ s wife, Lady Lee, recovered the seats and head rests and put the Cruisers in uniform with embroidered shirts and jackets. Her dedication is most appreciated. After several attempts, the Cruisers found and adopted the unit Maintenance Chief, Robert Hardee. Robert truly puts the “ride” in our parades. He is talented, resourceful and always adds his “magic” to a broken machine.
The Sudan Cruisers first parade was in Nashville, NC on May 11, 2011 and the rest is history. The Cruisers are dedicated to the Children’s Hospitals and embody the true spirit of the Shrine! “We Ride So They Can Walk.”