Patient Ambassador José, professionally known as José André, is a piano prodigy who plays jazz, bossa nova, Latin American and world music. At the young age of 18, he has already performed in Washington, D.C., at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, the Blues Alley Club and the Library of Congress, as well as several international venues. Recently, he had a moment of a lifetime: performing at the White House during an event celebrating the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“Life is more wonderful if you love your differences and you love who you are,” he said as he played piano. He met with both President Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden in the Rose Garden.
He presented them with a letter on behalf of his family and Shriners Children’s, thanking them for their dedication to helping people with disabilities.
Born blind and with cerebral palsy, José began his journey at Shriners Children’s Philadelphia after his mother, Giovanna, saw a TV commercial that encouraged her to reach out to the hospital. They were looking for alternative treatments to help improve José’s ability to walk.
“His legs are straighter because of his surgery. His physical therapy helps him gain strength in his legs, and his occupational therapy helps him gain independence in his daily living skills,” said Giovanna. “José also has a customized wheelchair that he uses for school and helps make things more comfortable for him.”
Most people would never know the amount of pain José has experienced because of his positive attitude. Although his mobility has improved significantly, he uses his wheelchair for long distances. He and his parents are grateful for the progress José has made, allowing him to share his remarkable talent with a national audience.
“The care he has received at Shriners Children’s has made a huge impact on his life,” said Giovanna.