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Reno Teen Up and Running Thanks to Scoliosis Care at Shriners Children’s

From the time Jackson was very young, his mother, Shannon, had an instinct telling her something wasn’t quite right.

“I distinctly remember looking at him when he was around one thinking, 'his back doesn’t look quite right,'” said Shannon.

It was a good thing she listened to her instincts, because before Jackson reached his first birthday, doctors had diagnosed him with congenital scoliosis – an abnormal curvature of the spine that affects newborns and young infants. The curvature causes the spinal column to bend left or right in the shape of an S or C. When he was 13 months old, Jackson was in a full back brace. Based on her own research, however, Shannon knew the brace was not going to improve his outcome completely.

Struggling to Find Care

Shannon took her son to a few doctors throughout the Reno, Nevada, area and struggled to find a doctor who specialized in pediatric spine and scoliosis care. “It was devastating,” she said. “You’re already overwhelmed as a new mom, and not being able to find someone that specialized in Jackson’s condition was so frustrating.”

At the time, Shannon worked at a local country club and struck up a conversation with a gentleman who believed he could help. He encouraged Shannon to reach out to Shriners Children’s Northern California, knowing that the facility had an excellent pediatric spine program – one of the best in the nation.

As soon as Shannon stepped foot inside Shriners Children’s Northern California, she knew she was in the right place. “That man changed our lives,” she said. “We were able to get in quickly and the staff was amazing. They remembered our names at follow-up appointments, and they were genuinely interested in how I was doing – taking in all of this information regarding Jackson’s diagnosis. They cared about Jackson and they cared about me as his mother.

I’m so proud of how far he’s come. This place saved my son, and I want everyone to see all the wonderful opportunities Jackson has because of the care he’s received at Shriners Children’s.
Shannon, Jackson's mom, Northern California

The Best Care

After speaking with a number of doctors and pediatricians in and around Reno, desperately trying to find help for Jackson, Shannon felt how different the environment was at Shriners Children’s. She could immediately feel the difference that being in a hospital that is specifically tailored to providing care for children makes.

“Doctor’s offices have a tendency to be kind of stale, but the combination of having staff who know how to relate and communicate with children, an activity pavilion for kids to run around and play in, and knowledgeable staff just always made us feel like we were in the right place receiving the best care possible for Jackson,” said Shannon. “And he never cried. Whenever we went to see his team at Shriners Children’s, he never, ever cried.”

Jackson underwent two surgical procedures to treat his scoliosis – one at the age of 5 and again at age 13. Chief of Orthopedics Rolando Roberto, M.D., performed the surgeries. Now, Jackson is a competitive cross country star, running many miles each week – something his mother never imagined he’d be able to do.

“I’m so proud of how far he’s come,” said Shannon. “This place saved my son, and I want everyone to see all the wonderful opportunities Jackson has because of the care he’s received at Shriners Children’s.”

Meet Jackson

Jackson has scoliosis, but after two surgeries, he is able to run cross country.
View Transcript

[Shriners Children's Northern California logo]


I've been running for about two years now. Getting out and seeing people, nature, hanging out with the team and coaches, or when I'm running by myself, it is really exciting.

Speaker 2:

We found Shriners when Jackson was diagnosed with congenital scoliosis at one years old. He had surgery at five, and then again at 13.


Yeah, 13.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, 13. Coming to Shriners is very welcoming, very warm. Again, they get to know their patients.


I love Shriners because of how everyone treats each other.

Speaker 2:

Dr. Arbuto is amazing. Again, he's been our doctor since Jackson was one. He's very to the point, he's very honest with us, he answers all of my questions, lets me look at all the X-rays. He's really amazing.

When he said he wanted to run, I was very shocked. He's impressed me every day since he started, just watching him grow and watching him run further and longer and watching him really succeed. He's really come out of his shell, and I know with having back surgery, he's had a lot kind of riding against him, and he did not let it stop him at all. He's a kid that loves to run with his shirt off, so he shows his scars.



Speaker 2:

He's very, I think, proud of them. He's very confident with who he is, and again, he's really improved in two years. I'm very impressed with him. I'd like to say thank you, Shriners. You've made a huge difference in our lives.


Thank you, Shriners.

[Shriners Children's Northern California logo]

The Best Care for Jackson

Jackson was diagnosed with scoliosis, but after two surgeries, he is able to run cross country.

Jackson with mom

Jackson and his mom, Shannon

Jackson with provider

Jackson with Dr. Rolando Roberto

Jackson running

Jackson practicing cross country

Next Steps

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