Whether they’re riding bikes cross-country to raise awareness or putting on a huge ball to raise money, our patients and their families have the energy and determination to do big things – and for a big cause. Many of them are inspired by the care given at Shriners Hospitals for Children to give back. Here are a few of their stories:
Coast to coast
A grandfather and grandson teamed up to raise money to benefit Shriners Hospitals for Children — Portland after seeing the amazing care provided to their loved one, Rachel.
Rachel had been experiencing back pain, and when she noticed a lump in her back, her parents, Jenny and Paul, decided to seek a medical opinion. In the summer of 2017, they took Rachel to the Portland Shriners Hospital, where she was diagnosed with severe scoliosis, requiring surgical intervention.
Rachel underwent a spinal fusion to correct two spinal curves and a rotation of her spine. “She immediately was different,” Jenny said. “She grew two inches after her surgery, sat up straighter, and her shoulders were level. She can literally do anything she wants now.
This inspired Rachel’s grandfather, Roger, and her brother, Kyle, to embark on a cross-country adventure to raise funds and awareness for the hospital. Equipped with their bikes and camping supplies, Roger and Kyle set off from Washington on a coast-to-coast journey.
“I was already looking forward to this ride, but making this a fundraiser gave the trip an entirely new level of meaning: a small token of thanks for Shriners Hospitals’ amazing care,” Kyle said.
Kyle brought Rachel’s X-rays into every restaurant where they dined to illustrate the reason behind their journey. “We would bring up why we were doing it and what Rachel had overcome. We would show them pictures. There was a lot of shock about the severity of her curvature,” said Kyle.
Kyle and Roger shared details of Rachel’s remarkable recovery and passed out business cards directing people to the donation website they created for the hospital. “It was interesting to see how impactful the story was to people,” said Roger. “A lot of times when we stopped to chat with people, we’d see later that day that they donated to our fundraiser.”
After 92 days of bike-riding and over $3,000 raised, Kyle and Roger completed their 4,049-mile journey by touching their tires to the Atlantic Ocean. They celebrated their hard work with a lobster dinner in Bar Harbor, Maine.
What has the journey meant to Roger? “It trumps just about anything else I’ve ever done,” he said. “I wish there was more that I could do. We are extremely grateful for Shriners Hospitals and can’t thank them enough!”
From Iowa to Boston with love
Not many people say they look forward to going to the hospital, never mind going in for surgery. However, 12-year-old Paige looks forward to traveling to Shriners Hospitals for Children — Boston every three months, even though it means going into the operating room.
Paige, who was born with a port-wine stain birthmark on her face, began seeing plastic surgeon Matthias B. Donelan, M.D., for treatment when she was 2. As a patient ambassador, Paige finds joy in helping others, from supporting other patients to helping raise funds to benefit the Boston Shriners Hospital.
“Shriners Hospitals means a lot to me,” Paige said. “One of my favorite times of year is when I get to go to Boston and hang out with the friends that I’ve made over the years, including nurses, patients and Dr. Donelan.”
Shelly, Paige’s mom, said, “Our local Shrine center here in Iowa, Za-Ga-Zig, supports us.”
In honor of Paige, the Iowa Shriners organization created a fundraiser specifically for the Boston hospital. The Firefighter’s Ball took place in October 2019, and local firefighters were invited to attend.
“The event was very educational, because many people didn’t know where their donations were going,” Shelly said.
“Paige was asked to speak about her experience at the Boston Shriners Hospital. When people look at Paige, she looks fine,” Shelly said. “People do not understand why she would need to go to a burns hospital. So, we were able to educate attendees on her port-wine stain birthmark and the amazing laser treatments at Shriners Hospitals that help kids like Paige. She made people cry with her story and her positive outlook on life! The event was a huge success, and we hope to double, or even triple, the earnings raised next year.”
Paige’s willingness to share her story had a tremendous impact on those in attendance and on the donations received.
A helping hand from Kōkua Club
The Hawaiian word “ko -kua” means “to extend help to others with no intent of personal gain.” Our patients receive this help daily from their nurses, doctors and therapists, so recreation therapy staff members at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Honolulu wanted to help kids pay it forward with selfless giving. “We wanted our patients to experience the opportunity to give back to others,” said Recreation Therapy Manager Helene Freni-Rogers.
The Ko -kua Club was born.
“Ko-kua Club is good because I learned how to help other people, like how the doctors and nurses help me,” said a 15-year-old patient.
Organized in 2019 by Recreation Therapy Intern Kathleen
Tuckness, the program helps young patients to show appreciation, gratitude and kindness to others. Projects extend to three important areas of the patients’ lives:
- Their neighborhood: Showing “aloha” (love) to their families and their Honolulu Shriners Hospital.
- Their community: Extending “mãlama” (care) to nearby care homes, schools and others in the surrounding neighborhood.
- The world around them: Being “pono” (righteous, virtuous) in reducing their impact on natural resources and leading a more sustainable lifestyle.
“The Ko -kua Club empowers patients to do projects within their abilities in and out of the Honolulu Shriners Hospital that are helpful and meaningful to the hospital, the community or the world,” said Tuckness.
Opportunities take place throughout the year and have included activities both small and large – from sharing handmade flower pens with patient care departments for World Kindness Day, to baking trail mix for community firefighters, to cleaning up beaches and neighborhood parks. “I really enjoyed when we sewed heart pillows for the nurses for Nurses’ Week. They were so happy, which made me happy,” said a 13-year-old patient.