SHRINE BOWL SPECIAL HOSPITAL PATIENT
WANTS TO PASS THE TORCH
Shannon Kloppenburg plans to do for others what so many have done for her.
The 19-year-old University of Nebraska at Omaha student knows firsthand of the hardships faced by children with cleft lips and palates. A cleft lip is a split in the upper lip. A cleft palate is a split along the middle of the roof of the mouth caused by failure of the two parts of the palate to join during prenatal development. Shannon was born with both birth defects, and has undergone 15 surgeries to repair them.
She was only three months old when she had her first surgery, which proved to be very expensive for her family when their insurance company refused to cover the costs, citing "preexisting conditions." However, help was on the way in the form of the Chicago Unit of Shriners Hospitals for Children. When Shannon was 3 years old, she began receiving treatment at the Shriners Hospital to repair both her lip and her palate.
Not only did the Shriners Hospital provide the complex and expensive medical care free of charge, the people at the hospital also dispensed their special brand of love and care. "They are special," she says. "They treat you like you're their own kid." She's particularly grateful to two people at the Chicago Hospital--her surgeon, Dr. Pravin Patel, and her speech pathologist, Mary O'Gara, who no doubt sparked in interest in speech pathology in young Shannon. The Shriners further eased the family's financial burden by providing funds for frequent trips to and from Chicago.
Along the way, Shannon has become a musician who enjoys singing and playing the saxophone. Here experiences with Shriners Hospitals led to her singing the Phantom of the Opera for about 10,000 Shriners at an international convention in Tampa, Florida. "It was scary, but fun," she says of the experience.
Even with the help of the Shriners, it has been a tough road for Shannon and her family. As she got older, her bottom jaw grew but her top jaw did not, resulting in several painful reconstructive surgeries until her facial bones reached maturity. Now that the surgeries are over, Shannon has her sights set on doing what she can do to repay the Shriners Hospitals, and help children with similar problems. She is majoring in Speech Pathology and Music at UNO, and says she'd like to work at a Shriners Hospital some day. Shannon is already helping Shriner's efforts by serving as an ambassador for Shrine Hospital. She also teams up with her uncle, Patrick Carabo, also a singer, to entertain groups in fundraising efforts, with all of the money going towards the Shriners Transportation Fund.
Shannon will be honored at the 2007 Kansas Shrine Bowl as the Hospital Patient Special Guest. She will sing at the annual Shrine Bowl banquet in Hays on July 27, ride in the Shrine Bowl parade July 28 (game day), and be part of the game's coin toss ceremonies at mid-field before the kickoff .
Proceeds from the event support the Shriner’s Hospitals for Children, a network of 22 hospitals that provide expert, no-cost orthopedic and burn care to children under 18. Children are admitted totally free to Shriners Hospitals for Children without regard for race, religion, nationality, creed, or relationship to a Shriner.
The 2007 Kansas Shrine Bowl will be the most family-friendly ever, with several events taking place during the day. Planned events include a 5K Run for Charity, a day-long Arts and Crafts Fair, a Kid's Fair, the annual Kansas Shrine Bowl Parade, a high school football combine, and a Charity Poker Run that will include cash and prizes.
Advance reserved chairback tickets for the all-star game are $20.00 in advance, $21.00 on game night. Adult general admission tickets are $9.00 in advance, $10.00 on game night. Student tickets (K-12) are $5.00 in advance, $6.00 on game night. Banquet tickets are $20.00, and must be purchased in advance. Additional information and tickets can be purchased through the Shrine Bowl office by calling 1-800-530-5524.