Many in Lexington may only know Shriners Hospital for Children, the stately neighbor on Richmond Road, as one of the best spots for sledding in the winter or to watch fireworks on the Fourth of July.
But what thousands of families in Kentucky and surrounding states know is that Shriners, founded nearly 90 years ago to treat victims of polio, has grown to become one of the nation's leaders in pediatric orthopaedics.
While polio is no longer the scourge it once was, tens of thousands of children and teens in our region are affected each year by conditions of the bones and muscles like club foot, scoliosis, spina bifida, and accidents that require orthopaedic intervention and therapy.
As a result, the work the hospital does has doubled in the last 25 years, to the extent that at any one time nearly 11,000 are active patients. And most important, no child is denied treatment based on their family's inability to pay.
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Doctors on staff have long been at the forefront of innovations in research and treatment, and some have continued their work at leading national institutions like the Mayo Clinic. Shriners' doctors also teach at the University of Kentucky's medical school, and many of the university's medical students get training and internship experience working with Shriners patients.
But just as important is the care hospital staff takes to create a welcoming and non-threatening atmosphere for children and their families.
Shriners Hospital has announced it will be building a new cutting-edge children's medical center across from UK's Chandler Hospital.
The new Shriners Hospitals for Children Medical Center will offer the latest medical technology, continue its important research and strengthen its working relationship with UK Healthcare.
As Central Kentuckians, we should be both proud and grateful that we have such a vital institution, and that it is willing to invest nearly $50 million in a new children's medical center located in the heart of our city.
To support this transition, Shriners Hospital has launched an $8 million capital campaign called the Champions for Children Campaign. We are pleased to report that over $6 million has already been given and pledged by area individuals and organizations.
We are now turning to the public to help us raise the final $1.6 million to complete the necessary funding. Shriners Hospital is an institution all of us can be very proud of. We want it to remain a champion for our children and grandchildren should they ever have a need.
In this holiday season, we urge each one of you to consider a gift or pledge of any size to support the Champions for Children Campaign. To make a donation, please call 859-268-5768 or email Shriner's Director of Development, Dale Wallenius, at firstname.lastname@example.org. A gift is an investment in our children and our future.
Allen E. Grimes III and Wally Fizer are co-chairs of the Champions for Children Campaign.