Born in 1949 with a cleft palate, tiny Lynn Snyder couldn’t suck or swallow from a bottle. Every two hours, nurses fed her using specially adapted surgery gloves. Lynn’s mother took up the call once the family got home, feeding Lynn through a modified pacifier.
Infections and surgeries marked Lynn’s first years of life, as well as caring doctors who began the long process of repairing her cleft palate. When Lynn was nearly 5, she was unable to hear due to resulting scar tissue from surgery to repair her palate. The family was referred to Shriners Hospitals for Children — Houston, where a doctor found fluid in her ears and performed surgery that enabled her to hear again.
Reflecting on her first encounter with Shriners Hospitals, Lynn said emphatically, “I would still be deaf if it wasn’t for Shriners.”
The forefront of care
Throughout Lynn’s childhood, Shriners Hospitals served as her lifeline. “These were doctors fighting to save me and other children,” said Lynn, now a retired food supply executive. “Shriners was always open and giving with information – the back and forth with my doctors as an adult – they all knew how to best care for me. But it was really the Shriners Hospitals at the forefront of cleft palates.” Today, Shriners Hospitals for Children is a recognized leader in treating cleft lip, cleft palate and other craniofacial anomalies.
Stepping up for other children
When Lynn and her husband, Bud, decided “it was time to get serious” and plan their legacy, Shriners Hospitals for Children topped the list. The couple made a gift of their entire estate to Shriners Hospitals for Children, to continue providing specialized pediatric care to improve the lives of children and families. “I’ve lived it,” Lynn said. “These doctors, they gave children their lives back. Now we’re paying it forward with love and deep gratitude.” Bud’s late brother, Bob, was a Shriner, making the couple’s decision easier.
“This gift,” Lynn said, “is in memory of Bob and in honor of what the Shriners Hospitals did for my life. It’s a double win!” For those waiting in the wings, still unsure if their gift will make a difference for children, Lynn has advice: “A whole lot of children are waiting on you. What are you waiting for?”