Meet Hasi and Grace
Special Friends that Started as Patient Ambassadors Representing Shriners Hospitals for Children
Each year the world’s top golfers gather in Las Vegas to compete in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, a professional (PGA) tournament benefiting its namesake. The golfers are accompanied by 22 Shriners Hospitals for Children patients who represent their care locations in the pediatric health care system and serve as standard bearers. In this role, the Patient Ambassadors carry the scores of professional golfers during the final two rounds of the tournament. They are also able to meet and greet other golfers, spectators and Shriners, and share their stories of life-changing care received at Shriners Hospitals for Children.
Last year, Boston patient Hasi and St. Louis patient Grace attended the tournament and represented their respective hospitals as standard bearers. The two, along with a few other girls, quickly became friends. By the end of that week in Vegas, the new group of friends had made a plan to visit Grace in Missouri for her family’s annual 4th of July party. The girls were so excited to know they would see each other again and build on these already special friendships.
Then the world changed. Sadly, COVID-19 prevented most of the girls from visiting Grace. Hasi, however, was able to make the trip. Liz, Hasi’s mom, was happy to let Hasi visit, as long as there were safety measures in place. The family made sure that the county Grace was from had few cases, and Hasi followed all recommended precautions while traveling. Grace and Hasi used Facetime, texting, Snapchat and TikTok to stay connected and plan the trip. “Where there was a will, there was a way to keep the friendship going,” Grace’s mother, Dana, said.
The pair used Facetime regularly over the past year, any time of day or night. The girls’ frequent communication allowed Grace’s two sisters to also become friendly with Hasi. They all became so close that when Hasi visited it felt like she was part of the family.
“When Grace and Hasi met up at the airport it was like watching a Hallmark movie,” Dana said. “They ran and embraced each other.”
Hasi stayed with Grace and her family for a week, where they indulged in typical small-town activities such as ATV rides, a country road trip and swimming in the pool. Plans for another reunion are already being discussed, but until then, Grace and Hasi will rely on technology, such as their frequent Facetime calls, to stay connected.
“It is a wonderful story,” Liz said. “From the moment Hasi was chosen to be an ambassador, we knew it would be an incredible experience for her, but we never anticipated the deep connection she would form with so many other girls. She has a very special friendship with Grace. They just ‘get’ each other and we are so glad she made such a wonderful, lasting connection.”
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