Sunday, March 22, 2009

Karen, Shriners, and a request

Kev 9 Karen's red hat 

It's not a great photo---but I love it. Kevin took it on his iphone at Christmas. The lovely woman in the red hat is my favorite blog reader, my oldest sister Karen. We had just given her the hat and she was trying it on for Nolan. Kay checks in on our blog a couple times a month at her school, and I always get a thrill when I see "St. Mary's" on the reader list.

Karen, Erin and me web This photo is a bit better, but my sister Eileen refused to sit for it so it's just Karen, Erin and me with the chubby cheeks.

Karen loves music, soap operas, and Erik Estrada, definitely not in that order. She also loves her family, and reminds me of our dear Nana in so many ways---but especially in her ability to remember all her sisters and brothers' birthdays.

She was the first one to send Nolan a gift when I announced I was expecting. She's the greatest aunt, and now that we aren't teenagers sharing the same bedroom, she's the best sister too. She's the most intuitive person I know, and has the most gentle nature.

Karen also has cerebral palsy, and growing up she had to have several surgeries in order to walk. Several of those took place at Shriners Hospital in Illinois. I remember Kay in a double leg cast there, and the girl in the bed next to hers, who was born without arms. She let me feed her some yogurt, and in that moment and countless others, Shriners made an indelible mark on me.

I hadn't thought about  Shriners Hospital in years. Then I reconnected with an old high school friend, Peggy, whose son Owen was born with a rare condition called arthrogryposis multiplex congenita. Owen's condition will require more than 18 surgeries, and Shriners has been a life-saver, according to Peggy, picking up the cost of his surgeries and his medical equipment along the way.

Shriners is an amazing organization, with over 20 hospitals dedicated to helping children and their families. Peggy wanted to give back and came up with an incredible idea that she has entered in the Name Your Dream Assignment. Her plan is to create a black-and-white photo exhibit and book of patients, doctors and families at Shriners, with all proceeds going back to the hospital.

This is where you come in. I'm asking that you take a few minutes to click over to the Name Your Dream Assignments web page, and vote for Peggy's proposal, Perfectly Imperfect.

On the left hand side of Peg's page is a PIC IT button. If you click it, you will need to fill out a very brief registration. If we can get Peggy's proposal into the top 10, it will then be reviewed and judged on creativity, thought and originality.

I'm asking you to do one more thing---and I can promise it will be the last request I ever make here, as the days wind down to Sean's birthday. Please share the link with friends or on your blog or with anyone who would be interested in helping. Shriners does amazing work in this world, work that rarely is acknowledged, and I believe Peggy's book would be an empowering tribute to all the medical professionals at Shriners and their amazing patients, including my sister Kay.

Thanks for your help!

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