It was a priviledge to meet Nicholas this afternoon. He and his motherÂ walked through the doors at Shriners Hospital in Springfield, Mass with a box.Â A dozen coloring books, crayons, puzzles, board games, and classic Christmas books were neatly arranged inside. This happy and veryÂ generous youngÂ boy wanted to share his joy for the holiday withÂ our patients.
Who would have thought that what started as a fun idea, running in the Boston Marathon as a family, would actually become a reality? Excitement set in upon receipt of the official acceptance letters from the Boston Athletic Association for Tara Gardner, Kate Towlson, Derek Davies, and Gina Sanderson (pictured L to R). But running in the marathon was not enough, the group decided to raise money for an organization right in their backyard.
Two and a half year old Brady Dennis, Ginaâ€™s grandson, has been treated at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Springfield, Mass since he wasÂ one week old for hip dysplasia. It was an easy decision to run for Brady and for Shriners Hospital.
On a humid, eighty-seven degree April day, this dedicated family finished theÂ Boston Marathon together, despite injuries and fatigue, and raised $5200 for the hospital.
Life as I knew it changed on April 28, 2006. It was a regular Friday during my junior year of high school. I was late, which was very out of the ordinary for me because I hate being late for anything. I was so looking forward to the weekend since I was going to celebrate my 17th birthday. Since I was late already, I decided that stopping for a Lemonade Coolatta (frozen slush) at Dunkinâ€™ Donuts wouldnâ€™t hurt.
I pulled into the student parking lot only to find that there werenâ€™t any spots left. I finally found one and stumbled out of the car, only to send my refreshing slush flying into the air and splashing all over the parking lot. My reaction was, â€śThis is going to be the worst day ever!â€ť Little did I know, at approximately 5 p.m. that same day, I was going to be involved in a serious car accident that nearly took my life. That morning was the last thing I would remember when I awoke from an induced coma over three months later.
The accident left me with second, third and fourth degree burns on 70 percent of my body. I ended up having both feet amputated below the knee, along with the fingers on my right hand, and I underwent 36 surgeries in less than 10 months.
The cost of my care has been estimated at more than $7 million, and while under the care of the Shriners Hospitals my family never had to pay for a thing. My entire family is grateful for all the care I received. About a year after my accident, we began raising funds for the Shriners Hospitals for Children, and we have had many opportunities to speak on behalf of the hospital system. I also speak on behalf of the Phoenix Society for burn survivors. This organization helps survivors and their families cope with and overcome the difficult challenges encountered after a burn injury.
It has been six years since my accident and today I am looking forward to graduating from college in May with a bachelorâ€™s degree in public relations. I have a whole new outlook and appreciation of life, and I love sharing my story every chance I get.
I now see how fortunate I was to have gotten the best treatment in the world at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and at the Shriners Hospitals for Children â€” Boston and Springfield.
If you would like to learn more about my story, check out my video slideshow at http://www.fromtragedytotriumph.org/Â â€“ it illustrates my entire life in less than seven minutes.
“If you are reading this story in search of a tear-jerking tale of a handicapped youth overcoming obstacles, you are in the wrong place.”Â The article linked here is an inspiring storyÂ aboutÂ a Springfield, Mass, Shriners Hospital patient, Alex Ried.Â Read more.
In March, weÂ introduced you to Andrew in aÂ post written by his mother.Â
Since then, he has created his own website, underwent surgery, was the patient ambassador at the hospital walkathon and held numerous fundraisers inÂ pursuit of his goal to make the U.S. Paralympic Ski Team and compete in Sochi, Russia in 2014. His familyÂ is holding their last fundraising event this year called Eat With Andrew.
Staff members met with Jen Breault (a ShrinersÂ RN) and her family on the morning of Saturday,Â June 4.Â She was presented with 5 totes of clothes, 2 bins of toys, gift cards and over $1300.00 cash that was generously donated by our staff and friends.
Also,Â Gabrielle Riola, fellow hospital employee, has arranged for a donation night at Pastoriâ€™s Restaurant & Bar this Thursday starting at 9:00 p.m.Â Pastoriâ€™s holds a weekly karaoke night, and tonightÂ they will be accepting donations forÂ the BreaultÂ Family whoÂ lostÂ their entire home in the recent tornado.
Directions to the restaurant are located on the website: Â http://pastorispizza.com/
In 2009, our hospital joined with the Kid’s Wish Network in implementing a Hero of the Month program. Shriners Hospitals for Children in Springfield, Mass participates in this program by nominating one child every month from our facility.Â When a nominee becomes the “Shriners Hero of the Month”Â he or sheÂ is awarded with a number special gifts provided by the Kids Wish Network including a prepaid gift card, Hero Certificate, T-shirt, a medal and free membership to the Kids Wish Network.Â It’s an amazing program and is based on the idea that paying tribute to these children’s ability to overcome adversity can make a real and positive difference in their recovery. For more information about the Hero of the Month program, visit the Kids Wish Network website at www.kidswishnetwork.org.
On Friday, April 1, 2011, clinical staff members had the pleasure of presenting 12 year old Massachusetts resident, Rocio with the Hero of the Month Award for March. She was nominated by the rehabilitation department for her incredible courage and determination throughout a lengthy rehabilitation period.Â She underwent a surgical procedure in April 2010 and has been participating in physical therapy since then.Â She always has a positive attitude, bright smile and funny comments to keep the staff laughing.Â Her dedication, inspiration, and courage were applauded.Â Her supportive family was present for the award presentation and Rocio was deeply honored to be acknowledged!
Contributed by Tenney Carpenter, DPT, physical therapist at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Springfield, Mass.
My name is Danielle Moruzzi, I am 16 years old andÂ live in Saugerties, New York. I was diagnosed with Juvenile Dermatomyositis in August of 2006. I started not feeling well, unable to do simple chores such as lift dishes to put them into the cabinet. My symptoms became worse over the period of a few weeks. My eyelids were so swollen one day I could barely open my eyes. I went to my pediatrician and thatâ€™s when I received my diagnosis. I had to wait one week to see a rheumatologist in Albany, NY but she was not a pediatric rheumatologist and could not treat me. She contacted Dr. Rothman at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Springfield, Mass and got me in the next day.
That is when I learned more about my disease and when my treatment started. I learned that this disease involves muscle and skin. My muscles were very sore, especially my neck and arms. There were many things I could not do. I had to get large does of steroids and other medications to help stop the disease. This lasted for months and I had to travel back and forth to Shriners in Springfield and Albany Medical Center. It was about 8 months of IV treatments before I saw a drastic improvement in my health. By January 2008 I was in remission. In April 2010 I had a flare up and again went through the treatment process. This time I felt better so much faster because Dr. Rothman knew what medications worked best for me from the previous time. I am currently feeling much better and back to myself.
I am a junior in high school and training to get my private pilotâ€™s license at Ulster BOCES and River Aviation. A few months ago, the fabulous Dr. Rothman asked if I would be interested in the â€śPilot for a Dayâ€ť program. I did not know what to expect. Mom, Dad, friend Kayla and I were escorted from our hotel to Westover ARB by a State Police escort and we met Dr. Rothman there. As soon as I got there I was introduced to everyone, the 439th Airlift Wing Commander Col. Swain, Chief Master Sgr. Skawski, Lt. Rachels, SMSgt Zacharics, TSgt Counch, my photographer and a few others. They explained what was going to happen throughout the day. In front of 2,500 air-force reserves, I took an oath and was sworn in. I received my jacket, went to the air traffic control simulator and then into the actual control tower.
Then I got to fly the C-5 Galaxy simulator with Lt. Rachels, which was so much fun! From there we ate lunch and moved onto the security forces. They showed me some of the weapons used and the night vision goggles. Then we went to the explosive ordnance disposal. They showed me the robots they had and my friend Kayla and I got to play with them. With the robot, I made it pick up a hammer and carry it across the room and place it on the table. From there we went into the actual C-5 and got a complete tour of it, see the cargo area, the soldier seating area and look out the back to the tail. The plane is so big and it was so cool getting to go inside and see how everything worked. Then we went to the Wing Commanderâ€™s Conference Room where he gave me a coin and a plaque and I got to say thank you to everyone for a wonderful day.
It was the best day I could possibly ask for. They keep asking if I had any questions, but I was speechless all day. I wish I could go do it all again. Pilot for a Day is a great opportunity, and an amazing experience!â€ťÂ
I have had time to reflect on my son Andrewâ€™sÂ December 2010 trip to Breckenridge, CO for The Hartford Ski Spectacular.Â It was an amazing and unexpected opportunity for Andrew, and I was so excited for him to participate.Â After attending this event with my family and watching Andrew and the other athletes there, I wanted to take this time to thank all the family, friends and tremendous organizations that have gotten him to this point.Â When Andrew first became ill with encephalitis, we had no idea if or how much he would recover.Â When he was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at the age of six months, we watched him struggle to crawl, stand, walk and finally run in his own special way.Â I never imagined that he would be playing tennis with Ivan Lendl, waterskiing on Lake Zoar, playing baseball, teaching other kids how to ski at Mount Snow in Vermont,Â and downhill racing with Paralympic Olympic athletes in Colorado.Â He is full of surprises and I am sure there are many more to come.
To all those who work and volunteer to enrich the lives of disabled individuals, I would like to say thank you!Â Your hard work does pay off and Andrew is proof of it.Â Every contact we have made has led to another contact starting with The Springfield Shriners Hospital, NEHSA, STRIDE, CHD, Leaps of Faith, AbilityPLUS at Mount Snow, Hospital for Special Care, Ivan Lendl Wheelchair Sports Camp, DSUSA, Camp Harkness, TOPSoccer, All Out Adventures, Challenger BaseballÂ and the Enfield, CTÂ School System.Â Our lives have been enriched by these organizations and countless others.Â The friendships we have made will last a lifetime.Â
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Thanks again, Sheryl Haraghey
Read story published in The Wilbraham-Hampden Times, page 6.