It is one of the world’s most recognizable symbols of philanthropy: a Shriner carrying a young girl in one arm, her crutches his other. But the logo for the Shriners Hospitals for Children wasn’t created in a Madison Avenue advertising firm. It is instead based on a photograph taken in Evansville in 1970.
Randy Dieter was shooting photos of the Hadi Shrine’s annual summer outing at Mesker Park when he spotted Shriner Al Hortman carrying a young girl up the midway. Dieter attempted to take a shot of the Hortman and the girl as they walked toward him, but the camera jammed and he had to take his last shot as they walked by.
The shot, which would become known as the “Editorial without Words”, has been reproduced in windows, lapel pins, statues, and other Shrine paraphernalia for more than 35 years.
The girl in the photo, Bobbi Jo Wright, was born with cerebral palsy and received physical therapy to help her walk at the Shriners Hospital in Saint Louis. She went on to graduate from Anderson University and today still lives in Evansville.
In 2007, the Shriners Hospitals unveiled a new logo as part of a system-wide rebranding effort. While the new logo is more stylized, the inspiration of the Editorial without Words is unmistakeable.