Port Washington resident Pam Plier is very familiar with the Shriners Hospital in Chicago.
Her 6-year-old son, Bryce, was born with club feet and her 4-year-old daughter, Sharla, was born with a condition that required amputations of both her legs when she was just a toddler. Today, both Bryce and Sharla can get around with very few limitations — and their progress is thanks to help from Shriner's.
The hospital provides services to families for little or no cost, Plier said, and the family now works to raise money for the clinic because of the ways the hospital has helped her family.
That's why the family is bringing back the "Changed for Life: Run, Walk, Push or Pull," event for the second time after raising more than $21,000 in 2011.
"My initial goal was $2,500 so I was shocked," Plier said. "We were really proud."
The event includes a 5K run and a 3/4-mile fun run/walk on Oct. 6 in , with registration starting at 9 a.m.
First glimpse of Shriners
Shriners Hospital provides services to children with specific conditions until the age of 18, "regardless of the families’ ability to pay," said Director of Development Bob Cotner.
The daily operating costs for the Shriners Hospital for Children in Chicago total $113,000, Cotner said, and the organization is funded mostly by donations and fundraisers such as the Pliers' efforts. Specific conditions that the clinic helps to treat include: orthopaedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries and cleft lip and palate.
"All Shrine hospitals, including Chicago, are supported entirely by endowment income, tax-deductible contributions and bequests from the general public, grants from corporations and foundations, fundraising events held by the Shrine fraternal organization and other interested groups, individual assessments to members of the Shrine, and insurance programs for families so covered," he said. The Plier family has raised $32,000 for the hospital, he said.
Shriners Hospital didn't escape the economic downturn, and Plier said the hospital has started billing some insurance companies for services — something it didn't do in the past.
"But they are still doing their best to provide great care at minimal cost to families," she said, and the family wants to help that continue.
One child, then another
The Plier family first visited Shriners in 2008, when Bryce was just 2 years old.
"We went down there several times, every couple weeks," Plier said. The hospital fit Bryce with a variety of casts over the years, and eventually some surgeries, to help correct his club feet. He wore braces for a little more than a year, and now only needs to wear orthopedics in his shoes.
The same year that Bryce started his corrective therapies, Plier found out she was pregnant. An ultra sound showed that the baby was missing its tibias — one of the two bones that run from your ankle to your knee — on both legs.
This was confirmed with a doctor at Shriners, and at 14 months old Sharla had amputative surgery. In 2010, she was fitted for her first pair of prosthetics, which will need to be repleaced every 18 months to 2 years until Sharla is an adult.
"My oldest daughter (Eilana) was so just helpful and wanted to teach (Sharla) to walk, and honestly, (Eilana) got (Sharla) to take her first few steps on her own," Plier said. "It took her a while, she would fall a lot and still falls even to this day."
But, Plier said, for the most part the 4-year-old is independent and "just amazes us."
More event information
The event costs $20 for adults and $10 for kids, with a maximum family cost of $40. Parcipants who register by Saturday (Sept. 15) are guaranteed to receive a T-shirt. Download the registration packet, and e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Post-event celebration after the race includes concessions provided by , as well as kids' games, a bounce house and a Shiner's mini-cars show. Awards will be presented for 5K top finishers in several categories.