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Shriners Children's Boston Patient Angel Helps Spread Holiday Cheer

Angel painted an iconic Boston image for this year's holiday card.

Angel has always enjoyed drawing and sketching. He has a designated art space at home stocked with a variety of supplies to support his creativity.

Recently, however, Angel lost a bit of that creative spark, spending less time sketching and drawing. So when Angel’s family members Dyani and Laura learned that Shriners Children’s Boston was seeking patient artwork for the annual holiday card, they weren’t sure what Angel would think. While they didn’t want to push Angel, his family wanted him to be aware of this special opportunity to share his talent. That request for a simple drawing inspired Angel to immerse himself once again in his art.

Angel knew he wanted to focus on a recognizable Boston image for the holiday card. He decided on the iconic bronze sculptures depicting a scene in the children’s classic book Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey. Visitors can find the beloved installation featuring Mrs. Mallard and her eight ducklings in the Boston Public Garden.

Angel started by sketching and then painted out the scene that would become the cover art for the 2022 Shriners Children’s Boston holiday card. He gave the painting a wintry flair to fit the season, complete with snow-dusted evergreens. Laura shared that Angel studied the technique of the late American painter Bob Ross to perfect his depiction of the trees. Ross was well known for his educational program The Joy of Painting. “Angel watched lots of Bob Ross, studying how he drew trees. He felt initially overwhelmed when drawing the trees, but soon grew comfortable and more confident in his design,” she shared. The result was a beautiful rendition of a classic Boston scene.

Now 13, Angel has been a patient at Shriners Children’s Boston since the age of 3, after he was severely burned in his home country of the Dominican Republic. Not only did Angel receive life-saving burn care in Boston, he also found his forever home.

I don’t have to be nervous anymore when I go out into the world because I’ve learned that everyone is different. I can be myself and lots of people will accept me the way that I am. I’ve learned that it’s about more than my skin, it’s what’s on the inside that matters.
Angel, boston patient

Angel met his adoptive family when he arrived at Shriners Children’s Boston several years ago. At the time, Angel was being cared for by his grandmother in the Dominican Republic, and she was not able to make the trip to Boston. Dyani and her adult daughter, Laura, met Angel while volunteering at the hospital and soon developed a special bond with him. Dyani and Laura’s ability to speak Spanish deepened their relationship with Angel, who was far from home.

Many children with severe burn injuries need extended care beyond their initial stay at Shriners Children’s Boston. Dyani, Laura and their family recognized a need that they could fill. They applied for and received approval to host children in their home who did not have family nearby and could not go home due to the frequency of their appointments.

After his discharge from Shriners Children’s Boston, Dyani and her family brought Angel home to stay with them until he was well enough to return to the Dominican Republic and the care of his grandmother.

Sadly, Angel’s grandmother passed away when he was back in Boston preparing for another round of surgery. It was then that Dyani, Laura and their whole family began the process of adopting him. They will soon celebrate the fifth anniversary of Angel's adoption.

Angel continues receiving care at Shriners Children’s Boston. He recently had surgery and his care team will explore additional procedures on the area of his hand between his thumb and index finger to improve functionality.

Laura is grateful for Angel’s surgeon, Joseph Upton, M.D., whom she describes as “brilliant, and always motivated to find creative ways to add more function to Angel’s hands.”

As he has gotten older, Angel has become a more active participant in his own course of treatment, asking questions and advocating for himself. Angel continues to be an enthusiastic member of Team Brave, the Shriners Children’s Boston community reintegration program in collaboration with the Boston Firefighters Burn Foundation.

When Angel was 11, he shared how Team Brave changed him: “I don’t have to be nervous anymore when I go out into the world because I’ve learned that everyone is different. I can be myself and lots of people will accept me the way that I am. I’ve learned that it’s about more than my skin, it’s what’s on the inside that matters.” When Team Brave resumed this summer after pausing due to COVID-19, Angel was happy to join his friends on a Boston Duck Tour and even got to help steer the vehicle.

Angel is now in the seventh grade, busy with school and activities. He sometimes gets questions from peers about his burn injuries. As Angel looks at his hands, he appreciates what he can do with them, including painting a beautiful local scene that is bringing joy to the Shriners Children’s Boston holiday season.

Meet Angel

Angel is an active member of Team Brave.

Angel painting

Angel enjoying a painting activity with Team Brave when he was younger

Angel and Firefighter on boat

Angel enjoying a Boston Duck tour with Team Brave

Angel with family

Angel on adoption day with his family

Angel holding card

Angel sharing a preview of his holiday card design

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