Melanie Stoccioliccio’s first encounter with the Shriners Hospital for Children happened even before her daughter Maya was born.
That was 11 years ago and now the mother-daughter team from Quebec are truly discovering the magnitude of what it is the Shriners do.
They are part of the Exceptional Care Odyssey, a cross-Canada tour promoting the construction of the new Canada Shriners Hospital in Montreal.
The tour, which began in St. John’s last Friday, rolled into Corner Brook Tuesday. A reception was hosted by the Long Range Shrine Club, during which the hospital campaign was discussed.
Before she was born, it was discovered that Maya was missing her right fibula. The Shriners got involved and, while amputation was an option, the family decided to go perhaps an even more difficult path with attempts to give Maya a normal life with both legs.
Her condition left one leg shorter than the other and leads to issues with the foot and balance. Maya has had one leg-lengthening procedure and may need more as she gets older.
“We knew there would be pain and it would be hard and long, but the Shriners wanted to consult with us to see if we were ready to go on that journey,” said her mom.
Stoccioliccio said the option to have her lower leg amputated is a decision she will leave for her daughter to make on her own when she is old enough to do so, thanks to the Shriners.
Judging from the way Maya was prancing about the Bennett Hall in Corner Brook and the impressive action shot of her playing soccer on a promotional poster, they hope she will just need more corrective surgeries and continue to live a normal life.
Melanie said she never really got to know the Shriners when they were at the current hospital in Montreal. In the past four days, she has been able to do that.
“Doing this tour has been the best decision I’ve made so far because we get to meet them and find out how generous and happy these people are,” she said.
Maya, who was a little shy Tuesday and speaks French only, echoed her mom’s sentiment.
“The best part of this trip is to meet the Shriners and discover the landscape of Canada,” she said in translation.
Maya managed some perfect English, though, when asked about dipping her toes into the iceberg-infested waters of Twillingate Monday.
“Really cold,” she said with a big smile.
The Shriners are still raising money to pay for the new hospital, which is well under construction and is hoped to open this fall. The charitable organization is closing in on raising $116 million of the $130 million it is attempting to raise.
For more information on the project, visit www.exceptionalcare4kids.com .
Tom Goulding of the Long Range Shrine Club, places a personalized sticker on The Fez Mobile, a vehicle decorated like a Shriner’s Fez, that’s making its way across the country in The Exceptional Care Odyssey tour.
©Star photo by Geraldine Brophy