Big Hearts, Helping Hands: Shriners Hospitals for Children

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Sometimes, in the blink of an eye, life changes. As the United Cerebral Palsy organization articulates so well, “when an infant or young child is diagnosed with a disability, the family’s lives are changed forever. Confronting and living with the challenges brought about by disability requires families to draw upon the strengths within themselves that they often did not think existed. Parents and families have to adjust to a life different than they imagined.” This sentiment is applicable to a wide range of disabilities and medical conditions that affect children.

For our EverydayFamily CARES spotlight, we want to share with our readers some amazing nonprofit organizations with a heart for empowering children and families; groups which recognize that a child is not defined by his or her diagnosis, but rather, as a precious little individual with gifts and dreams who just happens to have a serious medical condition or disability. By providing compassionate and expert medical services in their respective specialty areas along with camps, extracurricular activities, and support services, these groups lift minds, bodies, and spirits. Whether you are the parent of a child who can benefit from the services of one of these groups, or a parent with a heart to engage your family in volunteering or donating, the following organizations may be of interest to you.

Today we are going to take a look at the first of three organizations: Shriners Hospitals for Children, Muscular Dystrophy Association, and United Cerebral Palsy. We hope you’ll come back later this week as we feature additional organizations.


“Helping children. Protecting childhood. We call it Love to the rescue.”

Stated Guidelines from Shriners:

  • Criteria for Receiving Care:  Thanks to the generosity of donors, Shriners is able to adhere to a “care beyond cost” philosophy. Shriners Hospitals for Children accepts patients solely based on children’s medical needs. Children up to age 18 receive high quality, specialized medical care in Shriners’ family-centered environments regardless of the family’s ability to pay. A family’s income or insurance status is not criteria for a child’s acceptance as a patient.
  • Specialty Areas: General specialty areas include: Orthopaedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate. Some of the specific conditions Shriners treats include:
    • Scoliosis and other spinal deformities
    • Clubfoot
    • Hip developmental issues
    • Spina Bifida
    • Cerebral Palsy
    • Knee and hip injuries
    • Blount’s disease
    • Fractures/dislocations (follow up evaluation and casting)
    • Osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease)
    • Limb-length discrepancies/Limb loss
    • Foot and Hand injury/deformity
    • Neuromuscular disorders
    • Sports injuries
    • Burn injuries and skin conditions
  • Services Provided: (as articulated in their website and literature)

“Shriners Hospitals for Children provide medical and rehabilitative services to children with congenital deformities and conditions, problems resulting from orthopaedic injuries, and diseases of the neuromusculoskeletal system. Shriners offers full inpatient and outpatient services, care coordination, surgical procedures, physical and occupational therapy, seating and mobility evaluation, delivery and adjustment, pediatric orthotic and prosthetic services, camps and enrichment activities.”

“Shriners provides surgical and rehabilitative care for children with varying degrees of new and healed burns including life saving techniques such as fluid resuscitation, management of smoke inhalation, early excision and skin grafting, and management of increased metabolism as well as reconstructive and restorative surgeries for healed burns.”


“An interdisciplinary team of surgeons and other physicians, therapists, therapeutic recreation specialists, psychologists, social workers and dieticians work together to provide individualized, comprehensive care plans for patients with spinal cord injuries. In addition to exercise and therapy efforts, a range of experiential programs designed to increase independent living skills, build confidence, and strengthen self-esteem are offered.”

“Patients with a cleft lip and/or palate are treated by a multidisciplinary team of experts who work together to improve the child’s ability to eat, communicate and breathe, and to correct the child’s facial structure when necessary. Each patient’s personalized treatment plan may include surgery, orthodontics, and hearing, speech, and psychological therapies to help them achieve the most complete recovery possible.”

  • Locations: 22 pediatric hospitals in North America. If you know of a child Shriners can help, call 1-800-237-5055 in the U.S. or 1-800-361-7256 in Canada.
  • How to Support Shiners Hospitals for Children: A 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, Shriners Hospitals for Children rely exclusively on the generosity of donors to conduct its mission of helping children. There are many ways to support Shriners financially. To find out how to donate, go to:

Thank you so much for your interest in donating to Shriners Hospitals for Children® – Tampa . With the help of outside groups like yourselves we are able provide patients with a positive and friendly stay. Below are items that we are seeking. Thank you so much for your thoughtfulness and generosity.


  • Toys that have lights and sounds
  • Rattles, bottles, & sippy cups
  • Mobiles


  • Dora/Mickey & friends/Elmo & friends
  • Dinosaurs
  • Coloring books/coloring sheets
  • Large crayons

School-age children:

  • Arts & crafts
  • Cars & trucks
  • Barbies & baby dolls
  • Superheroes
  • Littlest Pet Shop
  • My Little Pony
  • Thomas the Train
  • Painting supplies

Gift cards:

  • Target
  • Walmart
  • McDonalds
  • Chick-fil-A
  • Visa
  • Barnes & Noble

We also have a need for Spanish books and games.

When making a donation, please remember:

We are unable to use and accept the following items:

  • Used items
  • Used clothes and shoes
  • Items made of rubber and latex
  • Toys that promote violence
  • VHS tapes

EverydayFamily Heroes: Local Spotlight on Shriners Hospitals for Children-Tampa


EverydayFamily visited the Pediatric Orthotics and Prosthetics Department at Shriners in Tampa, Florida and witnessed firsthand the warmth, dedication, and expertise of the team as they measured and created custom braces for their patients dealing with a range of orthopaedic conditions. Everyday Family also had the pleasure of sitting down and talking with Alicia Argiz-Lyons, Director of Development and Marketing, at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Tampa, Florida.  Ms. Argiz Lyons provided great information about Shriners and praised their amazing young patient ambassadors who are making a difference for others. For example, Leigh Dittman is one of these young heroes. While many young people her age are absorbed with what gifts they will receive for their birthdays, Leigh decided to give back to others on her birthday. This inspirational young leader launched an annual Shriners fundraiser on her birthday to help raise money in appreciation for the care she has received at Shriners so the hospital can help treat other deserving children. Says Leigh;

“It’s hard to believe that September will be here in just a few months. For me, my family, and Shriners Hospitals for Children-Tampa, it will be a busy summer preparing for my 11th annual Shriners birthday party fundraiser. Last year, thanks to the community’s outstanding support, we were able to raise a little over $70,000 and we are hoping to go above and beyond that this year. We are hoping to get sponsors for this year’s event, which benefits Shriners Hospitals for Children-Tampa. Words can’t even begin to describe the influence Shriners has had on my life, helping me to have every opportunity possible to live a normal life. Without the hospital, I don’t even know how I would be. I have something called Osteogenesis Imperfecta (Brittle Bone Disease) resulting in 34 fractures, 14 surgeries and a variety of medical equipment needed for daily activities like moving around. Ever since I was three years old, I have loved being able to give back to this amazing organization that has influenced me in innumerable ways.”

Leigh’s birthday party fundraiser is Saturday, September 20, 2014 at 5:30pm at the India Cultural Center in Tampa, Florida. EverydayFamily wishes Leigh a very happy birthday and congratulates her for the difference she is making in the lives of many kids. If you would like to be a sponsor, you can send a check made out to Shriners Hospitals for Children-Tampa, with Leigh Dittman in the memo section. Checks can be mailed to: Shriners Hospitals for Children-Tampa, 12502 USF Pine Drive, Tampa, Florida 33612-9411.

In addition to cash donations, Mrs. Argiz Lyons told us that all Shriners Hospital locations have donation wish lists. Many of the items on the list are simple things you can collect with your children and make it a family project. You can check out the sidebar to see Tampa’s as an example. Check with the Shriners closest to you to make a donation in your area.

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Big Hearts, Helping Hands: Shriners Hospitals for Children

Kristen Zajac is a children’s author. Her published books include "The Veterans' Clubhouse," “Ebeneezer’s Cousin” (English and Spanish editions), and “Chasing the Spirit of Service”, winner of the 2011 Global eBook Award in multicultural fiction. Upcoming releases from Guardian Angel Publishing include "Grandma's Telescope" and "Taking Flight: Isabella's Aviary." Before becoming an author, Kristen worked at U.S. Central Command on MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida writing thre ... More

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