St. Louis Shriners Hospital team helps Kansas teen pursue college golf dreams
When Kerrigan approached the tee on the 530-yard par-5 first hole at Sugar Hills Golf Course while home for spring break, mentally, she was more than a few moon shots from where she was just a few years before.
Staring down the not-yet luscious green Goodland, Kansas, fairway in the early spring cool, it was just her, the dimpled white ball and her club – a bigger version of what she first picked up at age 3.
She didn’t even feel like the same girl who, as a soon-to-be high school sophomore, lay flat on her back on the unforgiving hardwood of a basketball court, unable to stand and ready to give up after more than a year trying to manage pain so sharp it felt like a hundred knives stabbing her at once.
Kerrigan is back on course and back on the course, a soon-to-be sophomore on nearby Fort Hays State University’s golf team. That’s a place she said she would never be were it not for the help of Shriners Hospitals for Children — St. Louis.
A painful rebound
It’s easy to apply the word “tough” to Kerrigan – a name her parents derived from the moniker of the villainess in the 1995 movie “Casper.” She’s a coach’s dream. Determined. Genuinely hesitant to talk about her individual accomplishments.
Or you could pick “tenacious,” so much so that, when she had the opportunity to grab a defensive rebound during a game in the middle of her first high school hoops season, she wasn’t going to lose out. Not when an opponent crashed into her. Not when, fiercely unwilling to let go of that ball, she crashed to the ground in a twisted heap. Not when she felt and heard that “pop” in her lower back.
No, Kerrigan held on. Then she simply passed the ball to the point guard, picked herself up and sprinted down the court to get in on the offensive action.
For the rest of that season and into the summer session, she tried. She really tried. She’d pop ibuprofen and worked hard despite the pain.
But something wasn’t right. First she noticed and then others noticed that she was shuffling her feet as she ran up and down the court; it hurt too much to lift her legs. Still, she played on. It wasn’t until the final whistle sounded in the final game that she crumpled to the floor, sweat and tears mixing on the hardwood beneath her.
It was “just” a muscle tear, the emergency room doctor told her. Rest and physical therapy would help. So Kerrigan rested as best as Kerrigan ever rests, which is to say, “Not well.” She was back on the golf course that fall, back on the basketball court that winter.
“I’m not the type of person to give up and quit, but I wanted to give up and quit because the pain was so bad,” she said this spring break on a Zoom call, a Shriner’s Fezzy bear on her well-made bed behind her.
She told her parents, Emmet and Paige: This wasn’t a muscle tear. It was something worse.
She was right. A local doctor discovered a host of problems with her back. She had mild scoliosis in her upper back, three separate fractures and a condition called spondylolisthesis in which her vertebra were essentially slipping in different directions in her lower back.
‘Holy cow, this hospital is awesome’
A granddaughter of Jim Alcorn, a Shriner at the Northwest Kansas Shrine Club, competed alongside Kerrigan on the track team. He went to Kerrigan’s dad, told him they needed to make the nine-hour, 651-mile trip to the St. Louis Shriners Hospital.
It took some convincing – the family didn’t want to take the spot of somebody who might need the expertise of the Shriners Hospital physicians more – but eventually, they agreed.
And so Kerrigan found herself walking gingerly into the St. Louis Shriners Hospital, nervous about what might happen inside.
“I was like, holy cow, this hospital is awesome,” she said. “It opens your eyes when you walk in and see so many other kids my age and younger who are going through so much. I didn’t know how they could do it because I had gotten to the point where I couldn’t.”
Kerrigan was seen by Michael Kelly, M.D., a spine specialist and surgeon at the St. Louis Shriners Hospital. After fresh X-rays and a thorough examination, he presented her with two options: a back brace and physical therapy or surgery that might end any chance she had at continuing her athletic career.
She chose the brace, a medical device with which she quickly developed a love-hate relationship.
The hate came from the fact that, for a teenage girl, it made her different from her peers, an “other.” The love? Well, it didn’t take long for her back to start to improve.
Dr. Kelly cleared her to play golf roughly six months later. Thanks to the brace, the slipping vertebra had, to use a non-medical term, un-slipped. One fracture had healed. One hadn’t gotten any worse. And, Dr. Kelly told her, one was never going to heal and will likely force surgery at some point in her life.
The brace had helped strengthen her back. The physical therapy gave her a stronger core. The combination added yards to her drive, precision to her pitches and putts.
Then came her junior basketball season, back on the same hardwood where she had finally if only temporarily succumb to her pain.
“I was pretty scared of being aggressive with the ball,” she said. “I had those what-ifs in my head.”
She crumbled in tears to her mom several times when her game just wouldn’t come back. Mom had the right words: “Just play the game you were born to play.”
The switch flipped, that mental hurdle suddenly behind her. “It was like, if I’m going to fall, I’m going to fall,” she said. “I’m never going to be as good as I was if I’m gentle.”
That’s a familiar refrain with Kerrigan, the mission to be as good as she was before the injury, if not better.
And funny thing: Eventually, she was. She tore it up on the court and then led her golf team to an undefeated state championship her senior season. By that time, she had already signed to play at Fort Hays State. Why Fort Hays?
“I was looking for a place that felt like home, like how I felt when I walked into Shriners Hospital,” she said.
Her freshman college season started off rough. Four members of the seven-person team left the school. The remaining three – Kerrigan, another freshman and the junior leader – have pressed on as individuals, unable to compete as a team. Kerrigan’s own play hasn’t been where she wants it to be, but in typical Kerrigan fashion, she’s working on it. Having the proper perspective helps.
“I can play good, I can play bad, I can play ugly,” she said. “No matter how I play, I’m playing the game I love. There was a time when I thought I might not be able to do that.”
‘I guess I’m doing something right’
Off the course, Kerrigan is speaking up and speaking out – about what it’s like to be an athlete who is taken off the court and the course by an injury, about the Shriners who paved the road for her to Shriners Hospital, about the physicians and other members of the medical team who helped restore her back.
She’s spoken at local Shriners Club events and then at the Kansas Shrine Bowl in 2019. There, she met the girl whom she now considers her best friend, as well as a now-12-year-old boy named Eli, a fellow patient at the St. Louis Shriners Hospital.
“To have a bond with a kid like that… I’m part of their family now,” she said. “He looks up to me as an older sister. For a kid to tell me he’s looking up to me, I guess I’m doing something right.”
She’s also raised money and bought toys for the kids at the St. Louis Shriners Hospital, making sure they have something at the end of their beds to enjoy when they wake up from surgery.
“A thank-you is not enough for the people at the hospital and the kids in it,” she said. “I got the help I needed. I needed to give back because there are more kids who are going through more than I did.”
So Kerrigan sets her sights on the future, to becoming an elementary school teacher and returning to Goodland to coach the team to which she once brought a state championship.
‘God has a reason for everything,” he said. “He had a plan for my whole life. This whole thing made me grow and made me stronger as a person and an athlete. Without the help from Shriners Hospital, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now. I wouldn’t be living my dream.”
More of My Work
Ryan Lee (MMM ’16) talks about how Northwestern’s MMM program prepared him for his work as senior director of product management with Hologram, an Internet of Things startup. Published May 17, 2022 Ryan Lee spent more than five years as a consultant, and he enjoyed helping clients solve their business and technology challenges. But heContinue reading “Designing IoT Products to Connect the World”
Current student Raj Shekhar Madhurakavi talks about the lessons he’s learned in the MEM program as he prepares for graduation and a new role as senior program manager at Mathworks. Published May 17, 2022 Raj Shekhar Madhurakavi is ready to change the world. Shekhar will begin working this July as a senior program manager atContinue reading “An Eight-Point Plan For Success”
Denny Hsieh applies lessons from Northwestern Engineering’s Master of Project Management (MPM) program into his daily work at Intel. Published May 10, 2022 Denny Hsieh speaks candidly when he discusses his skills as a presenter prior to starting the capstone communication project in Northwestern Engineering’s Master of Project Management (MPM) program. “I was pretty bad,”Continue reading “Making Sense of the Magic”
MBP director Danielle Tullman-Ercek and two current students talked about the American Chemical Society’s massive spring gathering and how Northwestern Engineering’s Master of Biotechnology Program (MBP) is preparing students for new trends and innovations. Published April 20, 2022 There was a lot of “new” for Olivia Meyer and Byron Fan when they attended the AmericanContinue reading “Seeing the Science in Person”
Bridget McMullan (MPD2 ’17) is using her MPD2 knowledge to meet member needs as director of product strategy at Anthem, America’s largest for-profit health insurer. Published April 20, 2022 Bridget McMullan expected that falsified or lost COVID-19 vaccine cards would be a problem for the public once vaccinations became available. As the director of productContinue reading “Designing Products People Love”
Anna Garverick talks about her experience creating a robot that remains centered on a moving ball and the most important lessons she took away from the experience. Published April 20, 2022 The night before Anna Garverick was to present her independent project for Northwestern Engineering’s Master of Science in Robotics (MSR) program, she learned aContinue reading “What I Learned Creating A Self-Balancing Robot”
Published April 13, 2022 Back in January, we gazed into The Official Allen Brake Team Housing Market Crystal Ball and asked the question “Is the housing market about to crash?” Now that we’re a quarter of the way through 2022, let’s take a look back at our prognostications and see how close we are soContinue reading “An April Look At Our 2022 Housing Market Predictions￼”
Published March 23, 2022 It sounds too good to be true: Boot up the old Google machine, punch in some data about the home you’re looking to sell and whammo! Have an all-cash offer in less than 24 hours. While it’s a possibility with sites like Offerpad and Opendoor, the old adage holds true: If itContinue reading “iBuyer Beware: How Sellers Lose￼”
Published March 8, 2022 Another day, another crash for a company once believed to have special insight into the real estate industry. This time it is mortgage lending start-up Better.com, which announced in early March it was laying off nearly half its workforce after stumbling mightily in a shifting housing market. Its decision to axContinue reading “Inside The Better.Com Debacle￼”
Published March 7, 2022 George Orwell’s famous book “1984″ came out 35 years before the dystopian world in which the author imagined a government that is watching you – always watching you. Now, more than 35 years after Orwell’s imaginary future, Zillow has made it a reality with people doing nothing more devious than searching forContinue reading “Big Brother Zillow Is Watching You￼”
Published March 7, 2022 When James Micioni passed away in 2020 at the age of 97, he left a long-forgotten investment for his family to uncover – a collection of more than 1,000 vintage baseball cards, including one signed by Babe Ruth. What was purchased for mere pennies as a boy had grown to beContinue reading “What’s Your Hidden Investment Worth?”
Thomas Sparks embraces the chaos of life as a full-time IT professional and part-time MSIT student in pursuit of his dream job. Published March 9, 2022 Evenings for Thomas Sparks can be a bit chaotic. As a student in Northwestern Engineering’s Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT) part-time program, he can easily spend twoContinue reading “Mastering the Work-School Juggling Act”
Published March 15, 2022 Andrew Benintende, MD, has witnessed the tragic consequences when a human body rejects a transplanted organ. His goal is to stop that rejection from happening. Dr. Benintende is taking time away from his general surgery residency at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City to perform research at NorthwesternContinue reading “Regrowing Hope for Transplant Patients”
Students in Northwestern’s Engineering Design Innovation (EDI) program collaborated with the company known for its Roomba® vacuum cleaner to address new business opportunities. Published April 14, 2022 Visitors to the iRobot website are greeted by a picture of a Roomba cleaning a living room floor on its own. The robot vacuum is the most famousContinue reading “Helping iRobot Become a Tech Lifestyle Brand”
Part-time student Kanika Singh talks about the lessons she’s learned in Northwestern Engineering’s Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT) program and how the program helped her move into a leadership role at her company. Published March 25, 2022 Kanika Singh was a learning technologies analyst at the global law firm DLA Piper when sheContinue reading “MSIT Skillset Lands Current Student with New Job”
Andy Lin talks about his role at the major biotech company and his role as a mentor on the Industrial Advisory Board (IAB) for Northwestern Engineering’s Master of Biotechnology Program (MBP). Published April 15, 2022 Andy Lin knows what it takes to be successful in the rapidly evolving biotechnology industry. As the technical development teamContinue reading “Shaping Biotech’s Future, at Genentech and MBP”
Joanna Szymel (EMDC ‘20) talks about launching her own construction and consulting firm as an EMDC student, thanks in part to a professor’s simple comment. Published March 25, 2022 A twist on a familiar saying helped Joanna Szymel determine the next stage of her career. As a new student in Northwestern Engineering’s Master of ScienceContinue reading “The Question That Defined a Career”
Diane Zimmer (MPM ’97, EMDC ’14) has built a 20-plus-year career in the construction industry, thanks in large part to her willingness to ignore suggestions of what she should do professionally. Published April 13, 2022 One of Diane Zimmer’s favorite pieces of career advice is that sometimes it’s important not to listen to other people’sContinue reading “What Happens When You Ignore Career Advice”
Naveed Asem’s new MSIT mini-course will unveil how to responsibly shape the future with emerging technology. Published April 15, 2022 Naveed Asem said the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) has put humanity at a crossroads. In his opinion, those who embrace AI now will thrive in the future; people who don’t take it seriously willContinue reading “Embracing Artificial Intelligence and Automation”
MSIT IAB Chairman Kevin Glynn talks about next-generation technological innovations and how MSIT is preparing students to leverage them in the future. Published April 15, 2022 When Kevin Glynn thinks about the future of information technology, his mind goes to quantum computing. Glynn, who is the chairman of Northwestern Engineering’s Master of Science and InformationContinue reading “Understanding Tomorrow’s Technology Solutions Today”
A recent MEM event with the American Association of Engineers of Indian Origin (AAEIO) helps students focus on finding their way in a post-digital world. Published April 15, 2022 Students from Northwestern’s Master of Engineering Management (MEM) program gathered earlier this year to learn how to shape their careers in a world where technology andContinue reading “Next-Generation Career Development”
EDI advisory board member Kevin Bethune’s new book, Reimagining Design, reflects the optimism he brings to design during times of exponential change. Published April 7, 2022 There is an aspirational nature that exists among most designers, a common feeling of optimism that design can make things better, that design can make life better. KKevin BethuneContinue reading “Designing with Curiosity, Bravery, and Optimism”
MEM student Usman Rafiq is helping humankind’s latest space exploration efforts. Published April 15, 2022 Usman Rafiq is part of humankind’s quest to reach faraway frontiers. As a member of Northwestern’s Master of Engineering Management (MEM) program, Rafiq is honing the skills he needs to push himself into higher leadership positions to help guide NASA’sContinue reading “Missions: Mars and the Moon”
Republished from allenbrake.com If I told you that super-cute sweater you were looking at was going to cost 10% less tomorrow, you’d wait to buy it. Of course you would. It’s 10% and one day. Smart move. If you’re taking that same approach when you’re looking to buy a house, you could be making aContinue reading “The Hidden Cost of Waiting to Buy”
Republished from allenbrake.com Attribute it to whatever you’d like, but most of us feel an increased desire to hunker down and hibernate during the winter. Tis the season for hoodies, warm blankets and cozy fires in the fireplace. Also tis one of the best seasons to buy a house. “Are you kidding me?!” you replyContinue reading “Top 5 Advantages of Buying in Winter”
Republished from allenbrake.com Your husband asks you where you want to go to eat Friday night. Great question. Of course, you’re not entirely sure why he doesn’t just tell you where he wants to go eat Friday night, but whatever. You’re on it. You think about what you’re in the mood for — Italian. Great.Continue reading “Five Easy Questions to Help You Select the Right Realtor”
Republished from allenbrake.com It’s not the winter weather that’s starting to cool down the hot sellers’ housing market of the past year or so, but the cold front is forming nonetheless. A mix of rising interest rates and an increase in the number of homes on the market are starting to tamp down buyer demand,Continue reading “Top 5 Reasons to Sell in Winter”
Republished from allenbrake.com Can we interest you in buying a house that doesn’t exist? Oh, and we’re not talking about a piece of property on which you can build your dream home. We’re talking about something that isn’t part of our reality. Confused? Talk to your kid. Today’s children know all about the metaverse. IfContinue reading “Welcome to Your New (Virtual) Home”
Republished from allenbrake.com A new year comes with a sense of freshness. Once that calendar flips from what was to what is, it’s like there’s a clean slate on which you can write a new story. No one wants to make the same mistakes from the previous year, whether it’s getting back together with theContinue reading “Five Home Buying Mistakes You Can Avoid in 2022”
Reprinted from allenbrake.com Key Points The year that just ended was a historically unprecedented seller’s market in the St. Louis region. Many of the same market conditions exist in 2022. Rising interest rates make this a key time for potential buyers to take action. Remember the Cabbage Patch Kid craze of 1983? If not, it’sContinue reading “Is The Housing Market About To Crash? “
Republished from allenbrake.com If you’re in the market for a Ferrari 485, first off, lucky you. More importantly, we probably don’t need to tell you that you might want to take it for a test drive before plopping down the more than $270,000 it would take to bring one home. Whether it’s a Ferrari orContinue reading “Top 3 Things To Learn When Test Driving Your Dream Home”
Republished from allenbrake.com Anyone who has ever tended a garden, worked on a farm or taken a basic science class would tell you it’s crazy to expect to be able to plant a seed one day and harvest the next. As it goes with seeds, so it goes with a home you’d like to sell. Continue reading “Want to Sell in Spring? Plant the Seeds Today!”
Republished from allenbrake.com If the past year has taught the real estate world anything, it’s that it’s actually possible to see dollar signs in people’s eyes. With a bounty of buyers looking to land their dream homes and a historical shortage of houses on the market, home prices have boomed in the past year. TellContinue reading “Top 5 Ways Buyers Can Win in a Sellers Market”
A boy’s journey from amputation to leader at the Kansas Shrine Bowl Colton is eloquent about many things – his love of football or his motto for life, for example. But when you ask him about his feelings on being chosen as the honorary captain for the 48th annual Kansas Shrine Bowl this June, wordsContinue reading “Captain Colton”
Many know the one that ended in a famous statue, but there’s more Bobbi Jo Wright is famous in certain circles for being the girl in the statute, the one who was lifted up and held by the Shriner. But sometimes, there’s another memory that jumps past the event that led to the sculpture thatContinue reading “Bobbi Jo’s Second Story”
Lora looks back on two decades of treatment at the St. Louis Shriners Hospital Nearly 21 years after she first was carried into Shriners Hospitals for Children — St. Louis, Lora walked out for the last time as a patient on a beautiful early summer day in June. She squinted in the bright sunshine andContinue reading “‘It Truly Was a Gift’”
Boy returns to Honduras with iPad, greater independence One morning in the not-too-distant future, Johan will leave his house and join his classmates on the walk to school in his mountainous home village outside Ocotepeque, Honduras. Slung on his back locked safely in a sturdy case will be an iPad donated to him during hisContinue reading “A Life-Changing Month for Johan”
Somehow, you’ve stumbled upon this little corner of the Internet. Now you’re trying to figure out exactly what’s happening here. Giddy-up. Let’s go. Who runs this site? I’m John Agliata. I am a professional storyteller, expert father and husband, certified life coach, decent boys basketball coach, amateur comedian and a good faker at a wholeContinue reading “A Beginner’s Guide to ‘Telling Stories to Live’”
So what exactly is going on here? Well, a lot. This website is various measures of creativity, therapy, safety, career exploration, vanity and insanity (plus a few mystery ingredients I haven’t quite identified yet) — all dumped into one glass, shaken (not stirred) and poured into a 32-ounce Big Gulp cup. To better understand whatContinue reading “What This Site Is All About, As Told In 38 Gifs”
As Zach prepares for his first ultramarathon, he sometimes finds himself 20 miles into a training run deep in the Redwood Forest with tears streaming down his blond-bearded face. It’s not pain from the grueling run or sadness from a sometimes difficult past that brings them. They are tears of appreciation that he, born withoutContinue reading “The Ultramarathon Man”
Farshid Guilak, Ph.D., has won what industry insiders call the Nobel Prize for orthopaedics – and it’s for the third time. The director of the Research Center at Shriners Hospitals for Children — St. Louis earned this year’s Kappa Delta award from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) as he celebrates five years here.Continue reading “Trifecta of ‘Nobel Prize’ Awards”
What if, instead of addressing post-surgery pain with a pill or IV drip, a patient’s own cells could be triggered to prevent it? This is one of the goals of a new field of medicine created by investigators with the Research Center at Shriners Hospitals for Children — St. Louis. It’s called “mechanogenetics,” and itsContinue reading “Stopping Pain from the Inside”
Robert had just moved to Houston in 2000 when he found out that cancer was going to claim his mother’s life. Shirley had been the one who was most there for him when he started his St. Louis Shriners Hospital journey in 1969. She had been the one who told him, when he was oldContinue reading “From Dislocated to Dancing”
They called him Big James, and when he was tracking down varsity quarterbacks as a high school underclassman in the state championships, he was a special sight to see – especially to those who knew The Story. The story that Big James was born with a right foot so disfigured his mere presence on the footballContinue reading “The Story of Big James”
On a Tuesday afternoon late last year, Lindley Wall, M.D., checked on the progress of Chloe, a teenager whose broken arm she repaired after a tubing accident on the Lake of the Ozarks. A day later, J. Eric Gordon, M.D., charted the next steps in treatment for Camille, a patient with a literally one-in-a-million leg condition calledContinue reading “Care from Routine to Rare”
When 5-year-old Marie Eva steps off the plane in the West African nation of Ivory Coast next month, she’ll walk into the waiting arms of a family who has missed her desperately for the past 15 months. Walk, not crawl. This ability to put one foot in front of the other comes thanks to theContinue reading “Ready to Return Home”
Jeff Cole walked into the Shriners Hospitals for Children — St. Louis board room Tuesday morning, turning a small vial up and down, up and down in his right hand. He was met by a standing ovation. The hospital’s director of pharmacy had with him the 2021 version of a magic elixir – the Pfizer/BiontechContinue reading “They Got the Shot”
It’s a Saturday afternoon and Charles Goldfarb, M.D., is in his basement cracking himself up. Upstairs, his wife, Talia, knows exactly what’s going on: Her husband is editing his podcast again. Chuck, as Dr. Goldfarb is known to just about everyone, is a nationally-renowned hand surgeon at Shriners Hospitals for Children — St. Louis, and co-hostsContinue reading “Dr. Chuck and the Pod People”
It was an ordinary afternoon in the lunch room of a Rochester, New York, elementary school, and all Ryan wanted to do was eat an apple like his classmates. Instead, the lunch room aide came over with a paring knife and cut the second-grader’s fruit into small pieces he could manage with his toothless mouth.Continue reading “Show Me That Smile”
A new study by investigators at Shriners Hospitals for Children — St. Louis suggests the damaging effects of obesity are not due to body weight but rather come from something much smaller – biochemical signals released by fat cells.
On Christmas morning, Santa – who bears an uncanny resemblance to medical resident Alex Wendling – is scheduled to make a special stop at the inpatient unit of Shriners Hospitals for Children — St. Louis. The jolly old elf has found the temporary home of a 12-year-old girl from Guatemala named Lucy. He will comeContinue reading “Lucy’s Shriners Hospital Christmas”
In a year in which physical presence has too often been replaced by sometimes fuzzy images of loved ones near and far, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty came through crystal clear Friday afternoon. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the tall, baby-faced right-hander was unable to come into Shriners Hospitals for Children — St. Louis as heContinue reading “Virtual Visit From a Cardinals Ace”
Scott Luhmann, M.D., is in the midst of a complex spinal surgery in a brightly lit, chilly operating room when he reaches up his hand and prepares to call for the next needed instrument. Before the words are even fully formed in the mouth of the chief of staff at Shriners Hospitals for Children —Continue reading “Anticipation Equals Excellence”
Hannah arrived in the United States on Christmas Eve last year, held in the arms of her new adoptive parents, Deanne and Matt. She stepped into a family filled with love, Christmas traditions and new siblings – three, to be exact – more than 8,000 miles from the orphanage in India she had called home.Continue reading “Stronger Bonds, Brighter Future”
It’s less than an hour before surgery, and Soumaila is taking deep whiffs from an oxygen mask that has been scented with cake batter. The mask isn’t hooked up to anything. It’s a replica that is part of a kit used by the child life department at Shriners Hospital for Children — St. Louis toContinue reading “Rewriting Their Stories”
Parents think of many, many things when they bring their child to Shriners Hospitals for Children — St. Louis for care of lower-leg issues: medical history, insurance information and snacks for the drive to and from. Whether their child’s shoes will fit when the doctors and nurses are finished with their work usually isn’t oneContinue reading “If the Shoe Fits …”
Jasmine nestles her viola underneath her chin and takes a deep breath. She raises her bow and, as she glides it smoothly over the strings, warm, rich tones fill the air. The 11-year-old Evansville, Indiana, girl can get lost in the moment while making music. Thanks to recent surgery at Shriners Hospitals for Children —Continue reading “Back to the Beautiful Music”
Arrya’s eyelids were drooping toward sleep mode as she sat in her wheelchair with her bedazzled halo traction device holding her head upright. Having had surgery less than 24 hours before and just gone through a tough physical therapy session, the 6-year-old Kentucky girl was in serious need of a nap. Clutched in her leftContinue reading “A Hug From La-La Higgy Bear”
Physical therapists firmly stretched Karley’s surgically lengthened right leg, trying to get the last 15 degrees of bend out of her knee. Meanwhile, Karley was in outer space chasing puppies. “She’s not as tense,” said Karley’s mom, Kayla, as she looked at her daughter on the treatment table, virtual reality goggles running the Space PupsContinue reading “A World Away From Pain”
Don’t think of a purple elephant. You thought of a purple elephant, didn’t you? For Madison, a 16-year-old Murphysboro, Illinois, resident, something similar happened when radiology technicians told her to stand still for X-rays as she started scoliosis treatment 3 1/2 years ago at Shriners Hospitals for Children — St. Louis. “When someone tells youContinue reading “Faster and Safer”
Chloe knew something was wrong in the first few moments after she surfaced in the middle of the Lake of the Ozarks. Seconds before, the 16-year-old Wentzville, Missouri, girl had been thrown from a tube dragged by a speed boat. She looked at her left arm, floating in the water, and willed it to move.Continue reading “Chloe’s Bad Break”
The first time Respiratory Therapy Manager Marcela Spraul tried to get Courtney to walk, the then-12-year-old simply refused. Now 17, Courtney is planning to follow in Marcela’s footsteps. The Olive Branch, Mississippi, resident was at Shriners Hospitals for Children — St. Louis on Oct. 19 for a follow-up visit. She sought Marcela to tell herContinue reading “Deep Breaths, Deeper Bond”
The year was 1979, and Shari was a shattered 11-year-old girl. With a spine curved so severely by scoliosis that she struggled to lift her head to look forward, she was the target of her classmates’ abuse. “I would get kicked. I would get spit on,” she said, struggling to hold back tears even 43Continue reading “Finding the Beautiful Swan Within”
Rebecca is understandably nervous. In less than a week, she will travel the 29 miles from her St. Peters, Missouri, home with her 13-year-old son, Joey, to Shriners Hospitals for Children — St. Louis for his yearly follow-up. Joey will leave his mom in the waiting room, and a radiology technician will take yet anotherContinue reading “What Will the X-ray Say?”
Natalie DeBarry was in the midst of her workday as a nurse in the inpatient unit of Shriners Hospitals for Children — St. Louis when she stopped in to see Daniel. It wasn’t to check his blood pressure or stick him with any needles. Rather, she helped him into a wheelchair and took him outsideContinue reading “Turning a Hospital into a Home”
The fez-clad Shriner put the phone handset back in the cradle just after 7 p.m. and sat back in his chair, looking around in silence at the room of equally quiet socially distanced volunteers. Realization set in quickly: A record had not just been topped but obliterated during the 2020 Heroes 4 Kids telethon benefittingContinue reading “A Record-Shattering Event”
Jen Grab was having a tough day. When part of your job is battling finicky insurance companies over why potentially life-changing surgeries should be covered, it happens. But when she started talking about how the patient from Africa whose care she helped coordinate at Shriners Hospitals for Children — St. Louis took the first stepsContinue reading “Constants in Care”
Narshare and her son Kareem are a long way from home. She pulls a sweatshirt more tightly around her shoulders as she watches her 18-year-old grind through physical therapy 12 days after major surgery at Shriners Hospitals for Children — St. Louis. He casts aside his walker and uses crutches to slowly ascend and descendContinue reading “Going the Distance”
When he first heard about Shriners Hospitals for Children — St. Louis, Tom was toiling as an undersized 6-foot-tall center on the Odin (Illinois) High School basketball team trying – mostly unsuccessfully – to guard the other teams’ behemoth big men. His coach organized a fundraiser to purchase toys for the hospital’s child life department.Continue reading “From Donor to Dad”
A tear slid down Ashleigh Bentz’s cheek as she opened the toolbox … a shoe horn, a pipe cutter, clamps. The tools that helped make Marvin Hohbein the master prosthetist that he was for decades at Shriners Hospitals for Children — St. Louis now were held tenderly in the hands of a former patient who hadContinue reading “The Tools of the Trade”
Camille steps into Shriners Hospitals for Children — St. Louis on the first cooler day leading into fall with her mom, Shantay, in tow. Ms. Hollywood has arrived. The 3-year-old Evansville, Indiana, girl recently underwent the first of what will be three limb-lengthening procedures before she hits her teen years. “When she walks into aContinue reading “Meet Ms. Hollywood”