6-year-old double amputee is ambassador for East-West Shrine Game

2014-07-02T00:30:00Z 2014-07-03T06:22:07Z 6-year-old double amputee is ambassador for East-West Shrine GameBy CINDY UKEN cuken@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

For the second time in about three years, 6-year-old Addison Benson, of Laurel, will serve as ambassador of the Montana East-West Shrine Game, a major fundraiser for Shriners Hospitals for Children-Spokane.

When she became a double amputee after a lawn-mowing accident in 2010, the first-grader and her family turned to the Shrine — and the hospital — for help. Because of the medical care and financial help, the youngster now proclaims, “I can do anything I want to do.”

She rides bicycle, plays golf, swims, jumps, runs, climbs the monkey bars and plays with her friends.

“I love it all,” she said. “I have an outgoing personality, a can-do attitude and a smile a mile wide.”

Her mother, Andrea, said the family is fortunate that they have gotten the opportunity to serve as game ambassador twice.

“The first year was so emotionally raw as we were approximately one year out from her accident,” Benson said. “This time around, everything to do with the Shrine and prosthetics feels so second nature.”

Benson said her daughter has had excellent treatment as well as emotional and financial support and hopes her ambassadorship will show participants and spectators that Addison is “just another kid — just with funny feet.”

“Maybe it opens more eyes and people are more tolerant of differences,” Benson said. “She’s no different than any other child. From the first time to this second chance with the game, the biggest thought is perseverance. Life moves on. We've found our new 'normal.' We are a happy family.”

Last year’s game raised $146,000 for Shriners Hospitals for Children-Spokane. Since its inception in 1947, the sports contest has raised more than $1 million for the hospital. The competition has earned the status as being one of the oldest games of its kind and is the longest continuous Shrine game in the U.S. Ninety-one percent of every dollar goes to the hospitals to care for kids.

“It’s fun for the kids,” said Paul Lechner, game chairman. “That’s what we do as Shriners.”

For nearly 90 years, Shriners Hospitals for Children-Spokane is where families who seek some of the best pediatric orthopedic care bring their kids. The Spokane Shriners Hospital treats conditions ranging from serious orthopedic issues requiring multiple surgeries, to fractures or sports injuries easily corrected through same-day surgery. Patients can also receive physical rehabilitation, radiology, lab services and casting all within the hospital.

Pediatric orthopedic conditions treated include: spinal deformities; knee and hip disorders and injuries, foot and hand injuries and deformities, shoulder injuries, limb discrepancy and limb loss, prosthetics and orthotics, sports injuries, fractures and dislocations, cerebral palsy, club foot and more.

Shriners Hospitals for Children-Spokane sees nearly 2,500 new patients each year with 11 percent of them coming from Montana. The hospital currently has more than 300 active Montana patients in the system. The balance of the children comes from Washington, Idaho, Alaska and Canada.

The hospital treats children from birth to 18 regardless of ability to pay.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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