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Shriners Children’s Southern California Patient Danna Participates in the 135th Rose Parade

Danna holding flower in front of float

Danna got a sneak peak of our float before the parade.

A Shriners Children’s Southern California patient took part in the 135th annual Rose Parade presented by Honda on January 1, 2024. Seventeen-year-old Danna was one of several Patient Ambassadors who participated in the iconic parade, which draws hundreds of thousands of viewers and spectators each year.

Danna was also one of the inspirations behind this year’s float theme, called Believe in Tomorrow. It depicted a young girl playing the cello with a prosthetic device, and was meant to represent how Shriners Children’s innovative care helps patients fulfill their dreams.

Danna was born in Sonora, Mexico, with a congenital malformation called Poland syndrome, and did not have functioning fingers in her right hand. She began receiving treatment from Shriners Children’s when she was just 18 months old. When she was 3, Danna had her first extremely rare toe-to-hand transplant surgery at Shriners Children’s, followed by another surgery a year later. The surgeries and subsequent occupational therapy and care allowed her to become self-sufficient and pursue her passion of playing the violin. The 17-year-old is now a member of her hometown’s symphony orchestra.

“Shriners Children’s brought light and hope into my life with everything they have done for me since I was a little girl, and now as a teenager,” said Danna. “In my heart, I carry each person and doctor who was part of my journey.”

Gianna, Dana and Juan Diego

Danna getting ready for her performance with the support of Gianna and Juan Diego

Shriners Children’s treats children from across the globe and from over 170 countries. Music therapy is routinely incorporated into the care plan at Shriners Children’s as part of the healing process. Shriners Children’s Chief Communications and Marketing Officer Mel Bower said Danna’s story is a representation of the more than 1.5 million children the healthcare system has helped since its inception.

“This year’s float theme was very emblematic of our mission at Shriners Children’s, because our goal is to help kids believe they can achieve whatever goals they set for themselves in life, regardless of their physical differences,” said Bower. “For many children that means being able to return to activities they love, such as playing instruments or sports, or possibly try those activities for the first time. Danna is an example of how the care that patient receives continues to have a positive impact on their lives for years to come, and allows them to believe anything is possible.”

Shriners Children’s International Patient Ambassadors Gianna and Juan Diego also rode on this year’s float. Every year, Shriners Children’s selects two International Patient Ambassadors from a pool of thousands of patients from across the United States, Canada and Mexico, to represent the international healthcare system and its patients. Juan Diego, Danna and Gianna were joined by James E. “Ed” Stolze Jr., the CEO of Shriners Children’s and head of the Shriners International fraternity, Shriners International’s First Lady JoLynn Dickins, and honored guests.

Gianna, Danna and Juan Diego

Danna, Gianna and Juan Diego smiling in front of the float

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