We are what we live.
In 1994, our infant son was paralyzed by an entiral virus. In the blink of an eye – Sam went from healthy 13-month old to C-7 quadriplegic. A rare complication from a common virus - official diagnosis: post-infectious encephalomyelitis. The upside was he survived – the downside – he did not recover, and Sam joined a small, unique and unenviable subset of pediatric patients with spinal cord injuries or SCI.
Now 22 years old, leading an independent life and a senior at Georgia Tech – it’s been a tumultuous and remarkable journey.
At the age of 7 – in his sixth year of extensive physical and occupational therapy we were referred to the Philadelphia Shriners Hospital for Children and Dr. Scott Kozin (current Chief of Staff) to explore tendon transfer surgery. A remarkable, cutting edge technique – whereby some tendons of working muscles in Sam’s arms would be transferred to muscles in his hands (paralyzed) – then retrained to work the newly attached muscles. Two consecutive summers were spent at the Shrine – and two successful surgeries launched Sam on the final leg of a path to independence – enough hand and thumb strength to accomplish the tasks of daily living so many of us take for granted.
We became, like many others, forever grateful and indebted to Shriners Hospitals for Children, their medical staff, and the fascinating fraternity of men behind the 22 hospital network – that make it all possible.
We did not pay anything, for the services we received in Philadelphia and would return again, a number of times to the hospital for consultations and guidance on further secondary conditions, such as scoliosis, that Sam would inevitably require treatment for.
This unique network of hospitals – founded in the early 1920’s – has become world renowned for their expertise in pediatric specialty care for some very specific conditions, disorders and diseases. Initially established for the care of childhood victims of polio – the hospitals went on to specialize in all types of orthopaedic conditions. In the mid 60’s – aware of the lack of expertise available – three new hospitals were opened dedicated exclusively to the specialty of pediatric burn care – acute and rehabilitative. In the early 80’s, they opened the country’s first pediatric spinal cord injury center (there are now three).
Shriners Hospitals for Children are recognized today in all of these areas of medical expertise as “pioneers” and “leaders” for their ongoing research and continued development of improved and innovative treatment techniques.
If that’s not enough to merit our support – there are no patient fees for services, ever. Admission is based on medical need, not financial.
In addition to development and delivery of this unique medical care model to our most needy pediatric patients, Shriners Hospitals for Children share their research and knowledge with the medical academic community, with thousands of doctors serving residency’s and postgraduate fellowships at the hospitals.
Just this May, Shriners Hospitals announced the extraordinary collaboration between their hospitals and the Mayo Clinic Care network – another opportunity to grow and enhance services.
The hospitals themselves – are funded through private donations, investments and independent Shrine organizations throughout the country. The Charity Navigator currently lists the hospitals as a 4 star charity.
A Shriner is a member of a fraternal, charitable organization that incorporates the Masonic principles of brotherly love, relief and truth into their core beliefs. All Shriners are Free Masons, but not vice versa. This group of powerful men have quite a history – and a wildly famous membership – including a number of past presidents (Harding, FDR, Truman, Ford), Douglas MacArthur, John Wayne, Mel Blanc, Brad Paisley, Buzz Aldridge, Glenn Ford, Sugar Ray, David Ragan, Sam Hornish Jr., Johnny Cash, Nat King Cole …..you get the picture! Independent Shriners organizations across the country are known to sponsor travel to and from their hospitals, adaptive equipment and adaptive sporting events as well – all to support quality of life for the children who need and use their hospital services.
Donations to Shriners Hospitals for Children can be very specific – to a certain hospital – even project or department.
XBS Global chose the Philadelphia Shriners Hospital for Children (a state of the art medical care facility for children with spinal cord injury) for their 2015 charitable endeavor, for all of the reasons noted here. Stay tuned for our Pinterest board, Shrine Shine coming in September 2015!