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Patient Ambassador Featured on 2020 Holiday Card

Katie was born with spina bifida and has been a patient at Shriners Healthcare for Children — Florida since she was 3 years old.

Children born with spina bifida have an incomplete closing of the backbone and membranes surrounding the spinal cord. This complex condition ranges in its effects, but may include leg weakness or paralysis, clubfoot or spinal abnormalities. Spina bifida is a lifelong condition and has no cure, but specialists at Shriners Healthcare for Children — Florida strive to provide comprehensive support to each patient to ensure that they are addressing every facet of the condition. These facets include custom walkers, wheelchairs and orthotics, rehabilitation services and surgical interventions. In Katie’s case, her medical journey has included all of these aspects of care.

Before becoming a patient at Shriners Healthcare in Florida, Katie was unable to walk. Now just turning 16, the high schooler is an avid Disney fan and recently walked around the Animal Kingdom theme park, unassisted, with the help of leg braces provided by our pediatric orthotic and prosthetic services department. She loves swimming and hockey, and enjoyed cheering on the Tampa Bay Lightning as they won the 2020 Stanley Cup Championship this year. When she isn’t at the drawing board perfecting her sketches, she likes writing and hopes to become an author someday.

When Katie was invited to be our featured artist for the 2020 holiday card, she jumped at the opportunity. She even provided our team with different variations of the card to consider. The chosen design is included below, which depicts Katie skating in her leg braces alongside the health care system's mascot, Fezzy Bear. As a thank you to Katie, we mailed blank copies of the holiday card for her to send out to her own circle of family and friends. "She was really amazed to see the final product," said Katie's mom, Joanne. "Her face lit up when she opened the package. So, the artist definitely approves."

The true gifts of the season are the health and happiness of children. Shriners Healthcare for Children — Florida is grateful for its many supporters who help to provide the most amazing care, anywhere, to kids like Katie and many more patients like her. If you would like to donate, please visit our donation website now and designate our location.

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