Community Conversations

Community Conversations Fall 2021

A letter from Mel Bower, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Shriners Hospitals for Children

Dear Readers,

Mel Bower

At this time each year, we introduce two new National Patient Ambassadors who have graciously accepted the responsibility of representing Shriners Hospitals for Children, sharing their stories about their achievements in the midst of adversity and the difference our health care system has made in their lives. Seth and Sydney, our 2021–2022 National Patient Ambassadors, received innovative care and treatment for scoliosis at our Philadelphia location, including vertebral body tethering, a new surgical technique developed by the medical team there. The care Seth and Sydney received helped them to be able to participate in the activities they love. Developing new treatment options is just one example of the ways Shriners Hospitals for Children strives to give patients every possible advantage and opportunity to achieve their goals.

Last year, the pandemic largely prevented National Patient Ambassadors Mia and Connor from sharing their stories of hope and healing. We are pleased that they will be continuing their journey with us this year.

We invite you to read more about these four amazing teens on page 15.

This issue also includes additional stories focused on the ways our medical teams use technology to help patients achieve better outcomes.

Since 1922, Shriners Hospitals for Children has been committed to providing excellent specialty medical care for children, conducting innovative research to improve lives and add to the worldwide body of medical knowledge, and offering quality educational programs for medical professionals – all with a single goal of transforming lives. As we plan for our second century of service, we look forward to continuing to pursue that one goal.

Mel Bower
Chief Marketing and Communications Officer
Shriners Hospitals for Children

As we move toward a full implementation of our new brand, Shriners Children’s, readers may see both the new phrase and the traditional Shriners Hospitals for Children nomenclature in use.


We received a note from Joan, whose mother, Mary, received care at Shriners Hospitals for Children almost 100 years ago – and credited her care with helping her live a fulfilling life.

Mary was born to a family of farmers in 1925. When her parents noticed that one of her legs was much shorter than the other, they mistakenly believed Mary’s older brother had tugged on it. They didn’t have the money to have it treated, and they thought she could manage. For years, Mary pushed through the discomfort and challenges that often accompany her condition – what we now know as hip dysplasia.

Mary was a patient in the 1930s.

When she was 10, Mary’s mother, then widowed, learned that Shriners Hospitals for Children — Greenville could give her daughter extraordinary care, regardless of the family’s ability to pay. They left their small town in a horse and buggy and made the 20-mile trip to the hospital, where nurses and doctors helped Mary feel like a kid – even giving her the only doll she’d ever have.

Mary eventually married, had two children of her own, and was widowed at 41. “She never gave up on anything,” Joan explained. “Because of Shriners Hospitals, she was able to go back to work for 20 years and care for my brother and me by herself.”

At 94, Mary passed away, leaving a rich legacy behind. “My mom always talked about how the care she received gave her a chance to do what she wanted in life,” said Joan. “She was a great example to me.”