Shriners Hospital For Children: What They Really Do
(photo courtesy of: Jennifer Gardiner)
RJ Mitte, award winning actor from the hit series “Breaking Bad” stopped by Fan X this weekend to spend some time with his fans and also talk about his love and appreciation for Shriners hospital.
He is a great example that having a disability does not have to define you, even if it comes with hardship and struggles. I had a chance to speak with him on Saturday and he wants to encourage those who face disabilities to never let that stop them from seeking out their dreams.
He further noted that his role in “Breaking Bad” as Walter ‘Flynn’ White Jr., a teenager with cerebral palsy, was the perfect role to show others living with disabilities that there really are endless possibilities that they can achieve.
Having been diagnosed at the age of three with cerebral palsy, a neurological condition affecting muscle tone, movement and co-ordination, he was referred to the Shriners Hospital for Children in Shreveport, LA. It was there they helped to correct his walking with a casting procedure instead of an invasive surgery.
“I can’t thank Shriners Hospitals for Children enough for what they did to help me overcome the effects of cerebral palsy. Had it not been for my doctors and therapists, I would not be walking and talking as well as I am today,” says Mitte.
It was in writing this story that the connection between my very dear friends Nicole and Rick Mery and the Shriners Hospital for Children here in Salt Lake City became so profound.
In Picture: Nicole and Karsen Mery
(Image: Nicole’s Facebook)
Their son Karsen, after a tragic accident in 2009, lost part of his left leg just below the knee. Karsen, now eight years old, has used a prosthetic leg since he was three.
The Mery’s have three other children and the decision to make Karsen feel the same as the rest of his older siblings was never even a question.
Rick and Nicole both knew it would be a challenge for them all to learn how to cope with the challenges that lay ahead.
It was a blessing when they were referred to Shriners by the attending physician at the hospital just after the accident. Over the years, they have helped Karsen learn to walk again, and given him a reason to understand he can do anything he wants to.
Karsen, along with his brother Jaxon, plays baseball. All of the Mery’s children are dancers for Dance Image Academy in West Jordan and perform frequently at events and competitions.
In Picture: Dr. Kevin and Jaxon Mery
(Image: Nicole’s Facebook)
Nicole said Karsen’s recovery and the healing for the entire family has had a lot to do with the staff and doctors at Shriners.
Through multiple surgeries to repair the limb and ten prosthetics in just over five years, Karsen is a regular at Shriners about every six months. He will be a patient there until he turns 18 and the comfort of knowing there is someone there to help them along the way is a debt Nicole says she cannot ever repay.
“We could never give back nearly as much as they have given to us and I want them to know how much they have meant for my family.” Through holding various fundraisers they do all they can to support the hospital and give back. They understand greatly how much the Shriners Hospitals for Children means to not just them, but to many other families in need during times heartbreak and overwhelming stress.
Headquartered in Tampa, Florida, the hospitals, known as “The World’s Greatest Philanthropy,” are owned and operated by Shriners International. They have 22 locations, located in the United States, Canada and Mexico and they provide advanced care for children with orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate.
Accepting qualified patients regardless of the families ability to pay will stay in place despite funding that declined from $8 billion to $5 billion in less than a year due to the declining economy. RJ Mitte encourages us all to help support extraordinary causes such as Shriners. Attending fundraisers held by it’s patients is always a fun and easy way to help, and you don’t need to be famous to help make a difference.
For more information about Shriners Hospitals for their services and ways in which you can help please visit their website Shrinershospitalsforchildren.org.