Paul Wright, 23 years old
Two days after I was born, my parents found themselves driving from our home in Olympia, Wash., to Seattle Children's Hospital, uncertain what the future would hold for me.
Since then, I've made the trip more times than I can count. My favorite part is seeing the Seattle skyline. When I was a kid, I used to sit in the car and dream that someday I’d work in one of those skyscrapers.
Back then, that dream seemed pretty far away.
I was born with arthrogryposis — a word that means “stiff joints from birth.” The good news is that it’s not genetic and it doesn’t get progressively worse.The bad news is I had to face a lot of medical challenges.
My parents tell me that when I was born all I could do was turn my head — more than 50% of my joints wouldn’t move; plus, I was missing my bicep muscles, my hips were dislocated, my feet were twisted backward and upside down and my hands were balled into fists. After leaving the delivery hospital, my parents weren’t sure I’d ever be able to live independently.
That was 22 years ago before my parents and I found hope at Children’s.
This fall, I will graduate from Western Washington University with a degree in accounting and that’s after walking to my classes and living independently for the last 4 years. I’m proud to say that I’m closer than ever to reaching my boyhood dream — and I owe it all to the amazing care at Children’s and the incredible skill, support and friendship of Dr. Vince Mosca, my orthopedic surgeon.
Looking back, I remember multiple surgeries (10 total), and lots of casts and splints that I had to wear to shape and straighten my hands, arms, legs and feet.
My memories of Children’s are happy ones; I never felt like I was in a hospital. There was the Mickey Mouse statue I high-fived every time I visited, the huge fish tank that seemed to go on forever, the clouds painted on the ceiling in the elevators and the endless supply of video games, crayons, coloring books and games.
Mostly, I remember the way Dr. Mosca smiled and laughed as soon as he opened the exam room door to greet us. He took the time to get to know me as a person and he gave me the greatest gift ever: my physical independence. My hands may never be able to thread a needle (Dr. M calls me limited-abled, not dis-abled!), but I’m definitely living to my full potential.
The wonderful thing about Children’s is that it’s full of “Dr. Moscas” — people who are not only passionate about helping kids be the best they can be, but who also have the expertise and compassion to make it happen.
With sincere gratitude for Children’s,
P.S. My mom says Children’s gives hope for each child’s potential — and that’sthe thing that she and my dad needed most after I was born. That’s why, even as a college student, I make a small monthly gift to Children’s.
Read about Paul's winning the American Institute of CPAs Beta Alpha Psi Medal of Inspiration Award
Seattle University's Dance Marathon has the special privilege of working with Miracle Kids from Seattle Children's Hospital, who have benefited from the Uncompensated Care Fund that our philanthropy supports. Our Miracle Kids and their families attend SUDM events throughout the year, including The Dance Marathon on February 22, 2014.