Grate­ful dad goes the dis­tance for Shriners hos­pi­tals

Modern Healthcare - - OUTLIERS ASIDES & INSIDES -

A Ten­nessee fa­ther whose 4-year-old daugh­ter is fac­ing years of treat­ment for a spinal de­for­mity has biked more than 1,100 miles to raise funds for the Shriners Hos­pi­tals for Chil­dren sys­tem that’s treat­ing her.

Gray­sen Nightin­gale re­ceived a di­ag­no­sis of in­fan­tile id­io­pathic sco­l­io­sis last year. The con­di­tion causes an ab­nor­mal cur­va­ture of the spine. Frus­trated with treat­ment op­tions close to their home in Chat­tanooga, Tenn., her par­ents, John and Susan, brought her to the Shriners hos­pi­tal in Greenville, S.C. And now they want to give back. The first leg of John Nightin­gale’s jour­ney will cover nearly 1,900 miles with stops at seven Shriners hos­pi­tals over 45 days from Greenville to Bos­ton. He ul­ti­mately plans to visit 20 hos­pi­tals in the U.S. and Canada.

His cam­paign, Pedal for Pen­nies, had raised about $12,000 as of mid-Septem­ber. Do­na­tions can be made at ped­al­for­pen­nies.com.

Gray­sen is be­ing treated with a pro­ce­dure known as Risser cast­ing, where she will wear a cast over her torso for seven to 12 weeks at a time over the next three years. When she’s old enough, she’ll un­dergo spinal fu­sion surgery.

Many are fa­mil­iar with the sco­l­io­sis that typ­i­cally oc­curs in the pre­teen years, but few are aware that it can strike so ag­gres­sively. “It’s sco­l­io­sis, yes, but it’s a com­pletely dif­fer­ent dis­ease,” John Nightin­gale said. “It’s vi­o­lent and it grows very rapidly.”

Shriners treats pa­tients with­out re­gard to abil­ity to pay, and the hos­pi­tals, which are funded by Shriners In­ter­na­tional, will also pro­vide trans­porta­tion and lodg­ing to fam­i­lies who need it. “It’s just an amaz­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion,” John Nightin­gale said. “Not only do they treat your child, they treat your whole fam­ily.”

Nightin­gale stopped last week at the Shriners hos­pi­tal in Erie, Pa.

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