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Florida Boy Brings a Ray of Sunshine to Shriners Children’s Texas

Meet Nathan

Nate was 5 when his family was burning yard debris in a metal barrel in the backyard of their Florida home on Christmas Eve in 2022.

His mom, Katelyn, was inside taking a nap, and his dad, William, had just called the kids inside to eat lunch. While everyone else was going into the house, Nate stayed back and turned to notice the flames in the barrel were dying out.

Before eating, he decided he would get the fire going again by throwing a can of gasoline into the barrel, which immediately exploded. Little Nate took the brunt of the explosion, and sustained burns over 68% of his body. He later lost his dominant left hand, along with three quarters of the length of his fingers on his right hand.

Nate spent the next three grueling weeks after his accident in a local Florida hospital in the intensive care unit. His mom, an emergency room nurse, did her research and was confident that Shriners Children’s Texas would be the best place for Nate to recover from his injuries. So, he was flown to Galveston where he would spend more than six months undergoing several surgeries and therapies before he would be released to return home to Florida.

Fun-loving and always talkative, Nate brings a ray of sunshine to the halls of Shriners Children’s Texas, no matter the weather outside. He brightens the mood of everyone he meets, befriending other patients, staff members, and even Shriners who come to visit the hospital. His favorite thing to do while hanging around between appointments is to make people laugh. His positive attitude and optimistic outlook have made him a popular character among hospital staff, who always look forward to their encounters with him.

The staff at Shriners goes out of their way to make Nate comfortable. Shriners has been so warm and comforting, it has become a home away from home.
Katelyn, Nathan's Mom

Speaking of home, Nate returned to Florida in the summer of 2023, where he was finally able to have the Christmas celebration he had missed while he was in the hospital. Since leaving the hospital, Nate has not let his injuries slow him down a bit. Katelyn said that he is enjoying many of the things he was doing before the accident, including fishing, riding his scooter, driving go-carts, and performing flips on the trampoline.

Nate is a normal, active 6-year-old boy who loves being on the go. So much so, that the Shriners Children's Pediatric Orthotic and Prosthetic Services team is creating a custom prosthetic device to assist him with riding his bike and holding a fishing pole.

In addition to all his favorite activities, Nate also enjoys making new friends wherever he goes. “He likes going to breakfast at this tiny little café,” Katelyn said. “And he sits with all the retired men that go there to drink coffee in the morning. He drinks his chocolate milk. So he knows more about local politics and weather than any 6-year-old I know.”

“I like hanging out with Mr. Harold and Mr. Billy,” Nate said. “I like to get sausage and gravy for breakfast. But, the sausage and gravy here (in Texas) is too spicy.” Aside from not eating his favorite Florida breakfast fare, Nate enjoys regularly returning to Shriners Children’s Texas every few months to continue his treatment and therapy, and to brighten the day of friends he has made at the hospital.

Nate is a Ray of Sunshine

Nate brings a ray of sunshine to the halls of Shriners Children’s Texas, brightening the mood of everyone he meets.

patient wearing an Alzafar Fez meeting with temple members

Nate sports an Alzafar Fez while meeting with the Temple's members.

patient smiling in doctor halloween costume

Nate is enjoying Halloween in Florida.

patient visiting with Morocco Shriner

Nate is visiting the Morocco Shriners in Florida.

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