Over the summer, I had the opportunity to visit a few different Shriners Hospitals for Children locations across the country in order to meet people who have had life-changing experiences similar to my own. I wanted to inspire people at the different hospitals and share my story beyond the Cincinnati area. I also wanted to hear other people’s stories and learn about what they’re going through. The opportunities I had were amazing, and I had such a great time!
First, I started with my book launch for “Beautiful Scars” in May in Cincinnati. It was such a cool experience! During the book signing, I met some new patients and saw some of the patients with whom I’d been in the hospital. It was neat to see all the children who had been in the hospital at the same time I was, because just like me, they also had healed and gotten much better. I also saw some of my nurses, doctors, and therapists while we were there. That was definitely one of the best parts, because I hadn’t seen some of them since the day I left the hospital, and since then, I had grown and healed so much. It was the best feeling to know all of my nurses, doctors, and therapists were so proud of how far I have come.
In June, we visited Northern California Shriners Hospital in Sacramento. We met with some of the employees, as well as some of the patients. My mom and I spoke to about thirty people, including parents of patients. This was a new challenge for me, because most people in attendance were native Spanish speakers. We had a translator, so I had to learn how to speak in short sentences and still get my message across. It turned out very well, and I got to sign a few of their books, one person’s hat, and another person’s T-shirt. I think they enjoyed themselves while I was there.
My favorite of all the visits was spending time at Boston Shriners Hospital, because that’s where I was the most involved with children. The city was beautiful, which made us love this trip even more. The best part was going on a field trip with the kids through the Team Brave program. Hospital staff, with the help of Boston firefighters, take patients to different places around the city each month. When I visited in early August, Team Brave spent the afternoon at a paint-and-party location, where an instructor teaches you how to paint a certain picture. While the instructor is telling you what to do, he or she also walks around and looks at the work, plays music, and talks with everyone. I really enjoy painting, so that was great for me. I also got to meet so many amazing people on this visit. I was able to hang out with a lot of different people whom I never would have met otherwise. In particular, I met a very special friend. She is from Ireland and has the coolest accent. We just clicked right away, and because of this visit, we will always be friends who stay connected on social media.
My summer has been very busy, and at times it felt like I needed a break, but without all of this traveling, I would have never been able to meet the special people that I did. I am so happy I was able to visit multiple hospitals and meet so many people. Each one of the visits was special in its own way.
I enjoyed every minute of this summer, and I especially enjoyed getting the opportunity to visit places I had never been before. This is a summer I will never forget—one of the best ones yet. I hope I can continue to travel to different places while telling my story and connecting with all kinds of people because of it.