Many local people have attended the Shrine Circus or donated tickets so the young people in our community can attend. For many, the word “Shriners” conjurs up images of men in red hats riding little cars or motorcycles, or selling programs at the circus each spring.
For Clayton Martin and his family, the Shriners have played an entirely different role; they have been a god-send.
Seven year old Clayton, and his twin sister Rylee, were delivered by emergency caesarean section, three months early.
While Rylee did not suffer from the early birth, Clayton who was born first, suffered from lack of oxygen and developed Spastic Dyplegia, a form of cerebral palsy.
For Clayton and his parents Shannon and Brad, the problems with fine motor skills and balance have meant hundreds of trips to the doctor, hospitals, rehabilitative services, etc. all at a very high cost.
During Clayton’s early months and years, the Martins were living in British Columbia and attended the Child Development Centre, where they helped Martins with all of the medical needs of Clayton, as well as helping them get funding from various non-profit groups.
One of the biggest costs in Clayton’s care is Botox injections, casting and braces. The Botox paralyzes the muscles so that they can be stretched. His legs are then put into casts to hold them in place to retrain the muscles. Clayton then wears braces to help him gain enough stability to walk.
Although the emotional strain of the countless trips needed for Clayton’s care remains, the financial burden was lifted when Martins heard about the Shriners. According to Shannon, once you know about the Shriners, the rest was easy!
“It was a very minimal application process, a matter of weeks. They are very accomodating. They cover everything, it’s amazing!” said Shannon. “The set up flights, meals, accomodations. . . absolutely amazing!”
Once the Shriners were involved with Clayton, the next step was a trip to the Shriners Hospital. Canada has one hospital in Montreal, but because of distance, children from B.C. are sent to Portland, Oregan.
Shannon explained that the Shriners in B.C. have a specially designed bus that transports the crippled and burned children to Portland for care. She and Clayton would be flown to the meeting point of the bus, then travel as a group to the hospital in Oregan.
Although the Martins moved from B.C., the hospital in Portland will be continuning his care until his 18 birthday. Shannon and Clayton began with trips to Oregon every 6-8 weeks; they are down to every 4-6 months. So far they have made 37 trips.
Shannon also talked about dealing with the Shriners Hospital. “They are always available and accomodating. Very consistant and no waiting lines.”
As well as being very easy to work with, the Martins are thrilled with the nurses and the hospital. Chase said the nurses “are very nice” and he loves to be able to play game cube at his bed or in the waiting room while he is there.
Surprisingly, Clayton also like to “shop” when he is in Oregon. Shannon grinned at his answer and explained that they have a ritual that includes watching the indoor rink at the mall and their favorite snack.
According to the official website, Shriners Hospitals for Children is a health care system of 22 hospitals dedicated to improving the lives of children by providing specialty pediatric care, innovative research and outstanding teaching programs.
The Shriners Hospitals specialize in orthopaedic care, burn care, spinal cord injury rehabilitation, cleft lip and palate care and research.
The hospitals provide care in a family-centered environment with no financial obligation to patients or families.
Children up to age 18 are eligible for care at Shriners Hospitals for Children, if, in the opinion of our physicians, there is a reasonable possibility they can benefit from the specialized services available.
Admission is based solely on a child’s medical needs. A family’s income or insurance status are not criteria for a child’s acceptance as a patient. There is no charge for services provided within Shriners Hospitals for Children facilities.
When the Martins lived in Alberta, Clayton and Shannon were very involved with the local Shriners, the Al-Shamal chapter. Shannon spoke at many events and Clayton was the poster boy for the club.
Shannon is very happy to do what she can to help the Shriners. “(Their help) means alot. (Speaking) is my way of giving back. If I can explain to people to please support the Shriners, for what they do for families with children with disabilities.”