Shriners Children's Scoliosis Patients Give Back
Patient Ambassadors Have Our Back
Several Shriners Children's patient ambassadors who have scoliosis have sponsored fundraisers, toy drives and school projects, to raise money and awareness about Shriners Children’s. Frequently, patients and families seek opportunities to help support Shriners Children's knowing that we provide care regardless of a family’s ability to pay or insurance status.
Patient ambassador Julia has been a patient at Shriners Children’s since she was 7. For years, she wore various back braces, eventually having vertebral body tethering (VBT) surgery when she was 11. Joshua Pahys, M.D., performed the surgery.
Julia states that all of the toys she received during each visit to the hospital, especially her American Girl Doll, made her appointments quite memorable. She recently celebrated her bat mitzvah by holding a toy drive for the hospital. She reached out to family, friends and neighbors and was able to collect over 200 toys (including the American Girl Doll) for the patients at Shriners Children’s Philadelphia.
Patient ambassador Nathan was also diagnosed with scoliosis at age 7. After wearing a series of five braces, he had VBT surgery. Amer Samdani, M.D., chief of surgery, performed the procedure. Nathan grew 2 inches after surgery, started breathing better, and returned to playing baseball.
Nathan teamed up with two other patients to do a fundraiser selling comfy and cozy socks to benefit Shriners Children’s Philadelphia. They worked with patient advocate Maria Follenius to advertise their fundraiser on a Facebook scoliosis group page and raised over $1,300 for the hospital. He and his mom, Kirsten, also sponsor other patients with care packages coming to the hospital for scoliosis surgery.
Former national patient ambassador Sydney has taken her passion for fundraising and raising awareness to a completely new level. After her VBT surgery, performed by Steven Hwang, M.D., she started a Curvy Girls scoliosis support group and has been running two chapters near her hometown of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for the last four years. She donated Higgy Bear care packages to scoliosis patients at OU Children’s Hospital and Shriners Children’s Philadelphia.
Sydney has also held several online fundraisers for Shriners Children's Philadelphia that began with her sweet 16 birthday. Recently, for her 17th birthday, she asked donors to support her effort by donating $17. Sydney has raised over $4,150 for the hospital in the last two years. Outside of being selected as the Shriners Children’s National Patient Ambassador in 2021-22 and attending several national Shriners Children’s events, Sydney has been recognized for her outreach by winning the Prudential Spirit of Community Award for the state of Oklahoma and by receiving the Presidential Volunteer Service Award for her work with the scoliosis community.
Shriners Children's Philadelphia is truly grateful for all the thoughtfulness and hard work our patients and donors provide. No gift is ever too small. Seeing how our patient families give back assures us that our care is truly the gift that keeps on giving. To find out more on how you too can give back too, please visit our Ways to Give page.
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