ALAMOSA — IHOP restaurants nation-wide celebrated Shriners Hospitals for Children on Tuesday, February 25, by offering free pancakes to its patrons. Many who came to eat pancakes donated to Shriner Hospitals.
Sand Dunes Shrine Club members and their wives “manned” the information table at the IHOP in Alamosa while blowing up balloons and tying them into fun shapes for the children.
Twenty-two Shriner hospitals in North America cater to the needs of children up to 18 years of age with orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate problems. If their care is begun before the age of 18, it will be continued after the age of 18.
The club is currently assisting two local children with their needs, Urianna (“Uri”) Acosta from Monte Vista and Leah Climie from South Fork.
For over three years the local Sand Dunes Shrine Club has been assisting Monte Vista high school freshman student, Urianna Acosta. She was born with a condition called arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC), a stiffening of the bones which affects about one in 3,000 individuals.
She has had many surgeries to free her joints which were locked in place by the disease including her elbows, hips, legs, ankles and one thumb.
She is now able to wear pants and sit in a chair which, for most of us, are everyday actions we take for granted. In March she will be fitted with new leg braces to accommodate her growth. Later, her right thumb, which is locked in place against her palm, will be freed. Releasing the thumb will enable her to write more easily without her hand tiring so quickly.
Three years ago, with her elbows locked in place, she was unable to feed herself. Now she can eat with limited assistance, and she can stand and walk short distances – dreams that once seemed an impossibility.
This year, with the help of Chris Vance, Monte Vista High School science and math instructor, this sharp, ambitious young woman built a robot that feeds those with mobility issues.
She programmed it to respond to commands from her phone. Her project was entered in the Science Fair held at Adams State on March 5.
With a smile always on her face, this determined young woman dreams of being a representative for Shriner Hospitals. She’s a celebrity of sorts. Every time she returns to the Shriner Hospital in Philadelphia, where she has received her care, she is asked to be an ambassador for the hospital when they have fundraisers.
Born with a rare condition called caudal regression syndrome, Leah Climie, a vivacious seven-year-old from South Fork, is now walking with crutches. Her spine stopped developing in utero at L4 (lumbar) which affects everything from the waist down. It also affected her hearing. Her parents were told she would never walk.
Three unsuccessful surgeries on her club feet (prior to Shriners) left her in a wheelchair, but the Shriner Hospital doctors removed her ankle bones which has allowed her to walk flat-footed with crutches or a walker. Her knees don’t bend but “she races around the school with her walker” said her mom, Veronica. Nine surgeries including open heart surgery have not slowed down this little dynamo.
“She’s very sharp and loves school,” her mom said. “And she’s taking piano lessons.” Leah will be getting new ankle braces in March.
“She’s really hard on her ankle braces,” said mom. “She needs a new pair about every six months!” “She’s full of life,” she continued, “and she loves to tell jokes.”
After application and acceptance to a Shriner Hospital, children are assisted regardless of the families’ ability to pay. If you know a San Luis Valley child under the age of 18, with burn or bone problems call 1-800-237-5055 to inquire. If accepted, that child will receive health care at no cost to the family.
Any health insurance the family may have will help to defray medical costs. The local Sand Dunes Shrine Club often helps with transportation costs. To speak to a local Shriner Hospital Representative call Ernie Kuney at 817-995-1398 or Tom Sanderson at 719-580-6200.
Like most clubs, the Sand Dunes Shrine Club is shrinking and needs new members to help continue their humanitarian efforts for children. They host the annual Shrine Circus which provides the funds used to help send local children to the Shriner hospitals.
This year the circus is scheduled for Tuesday, May 26 at Ski Hi Park in Monte Vista. Due to a lack of numbers, the Shriners can no longer approach as many businesses when soliciting for circus funds. If you are among those who don’t receive a visit from a Shriner prior to the circus, please consider sending your donation to: Sand Dunes Shrine Club addressed to Art Jones, 1359 Swede Lane, Monte Vista, CO