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National Patient Ambassadors

National Patient Ambassadors

Every year, Shriners Hospitals for Children selects National Patient Ambassadors to represent the health care system’s patients. The ambassadors spend the year sharing their stories of perseverance in the face of adversity and the ways Shriners Hospitals for Children has made a dramatic difference in their lives.

Meet our 2021-2022 Patient Ambassadors:

Sydney – National Patient Ambassador, Shriners Hospitals for Children (2021-2022)

Sydney, who is from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, learned she had scoliosis when she was 10. Her treatment began with bracing, but despite a strict exercise regimen and wearing her brace 23 hours a day for 1½ years, her curvature progressed. Searching for an alternative to spinal fusion surgery, Sydney and her family learned about the VBT treatment option.

Sydney had her VBT procedure at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Philadelphia when she was 12, performed by Steven W. Hwang, M.D. “VBT has allowed Sydney to retain her flexibility and to get back to all the things she loves faster and stronger than ever,” said her mother, Melissa.

Read Sydney's full story.

Seth – National Patient Ambassador, Shriners Hospitals for Children (2021-2022)

Seth was 11 when his doctor noticed a curvature in his spine. They began with a “wait and see” approach, and later treatment from a chiropractor. Still, the curvature of his spine quickly progressed to a severe degree. He and his family learned about Shriners Hospitals for Children from a social media group focused on the Vertebral Body Tethering (VBT) treatment for scoliosis.

Seth, who is from Fort Wayne, Indiana, underwent VBT surgery at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Philadelphia when he was 13. The surgery, performed by Joshua Pahys, M.D., helped the young athlete quickly return to the playing field. “My pain has been reduced dramatically, my curvature is half what it used to be, and my flexibility is on par with my peers,” Seth said.

Read Seth's full story.

Mia – National Patient Ambassador, Shriners Hospitals for Children (2020-2021)

Mia, 17, was born with a severe case of infantile idiopathic scoliosis. Her journey with Shriners Hospitals for Children began when she was 2, when she was first seen at the St. Louis location. Mia’s treatments have included halo traction to gradually straighten and stretch her spine, as well as nearly 20 surgeries.

During her extensive time in the hospital, Mia and her care team developed a tight bond, and Mia considers the people she knows at Shriners Hospitals – her doctors, nurses, therapists, and even the security guard – family. She has served as a patient ambassador for Shriners Hospitals for Children — St. Louis since she was 4 and has spoken to numerous audiences on behalf of the hospital. She has also appeared in promotional videos and media interviews. Mia’s passion is theater and singing, and she was featured singing I’ll Be Home for Christmas in our holiday commercials. Mia is also part of the Shriners children’s choir that performed in a recent recording of Foreigner’s hit song I Want to Know What Love Is.

Read Mia's full story.

Connor – National Patient Ambassador, Shriners Hospitals for Children (2020-2021)

Connor, 15, was born with a bilateral incomplete cleft lip and complete cleft palate involving the hard and soft palate. As a newborn, his condition was so severe that he was even unable to create the suction needed to feed. By the time he was 3 weeks old, he was failing to gain weight and was about to be admitted to a hospital. That’s when Connor’s family learned about Shriners Hospitals for Children — Chicago.

There, his RN care manager gave his mother, Kelly, a special syringe, making it possible for her to finally feed her baby. And from that moment, Connor began an extensive treatment plan of surgeries and interventions that extends until he is 21, so that some repairs can be made after he has stopped growing.

Read Connor's full story.


Previous National Patient Ambassadors

2019

  • Cristian

    Cristian was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus. In his first two weeks of life, Cristian had two surgeries and went on to have nearly a dozen more. “I know that I am who I am because of the Shriners,” he said. “I have been able to see that I can do whatever I want and I can overcome any obstacle that I face."

  • Madelyn

    Madelyn was born 10 weeks early. Doctors told her parents that she was beautiful, healthy, tiny – and was born without her left arm. Her journey with Shriners Hospitals for Children began with her first visit to our St. Louis location, when she was just 3 months old. “I hope to inspire other kids, and be able to show them that they can do anything they put their mind to – they might just do it a little bit differently,” she said.

2018

  • Lily

    Lily, from Paducah, Kentucky, was born with fibular hemimelia, meaning she did not have a fibula, the outer thin bone that runs from the knee to the ankle, in her right leg. “Shriners Hospitals for Children has helped me to not see my leg as a handicap, and instead to look at it as a challenge,” she said.

  • Riley

    Riley was born with hereditary multiple exostoses (HME), a genetic condition which causes irregular bone growth. When he was only 15 months old, he became a patient of Shriners Hospitals for Children — Tampa (now Shriners Healthcare for Children — Florida). “I plan on becoming a Shriner when I grow up,” Riley said. "I want to be known as someone who gave of his time and his money.”