Photos Courtesy © Shriners Hospitals for Children – Canada
Richard was a patient at Canada Shriners Hospital for many years of his childhood after experiencing a terrible car accident with his family when he was just two years old. It was 1968, and Richard and his family were on their way to visit their relatives in Montreal, just an hour and a half drive from their hometown of Trois-Rivieres, Quebec.
At about the same time his mother had taken him into her lap to settle him from crying, another car swerved into their lane, causing them to veer off the road. Richard was thrown from the front window, landing in a ditch with the vehicle on top of him and his mother. With the help of a kind stranger passing by, Richard’s father was able to pull him out from under the car and was attended to by first responders shortly after.
He made his way to several emergency rooms, spent some time in another children’s hospital, and then found his way to Canada Shriners Hospital. Unfortunately, his spine was beyond repair, and the accident left him a paraplegic.
Despite the difficult circumstances he was facing at such a young age, Richard only has positive memories of his time at Canada Shriners Hospital. “I grew up at the Shriners. I’m a Shriners kid,” he recounts. “I lived there until I was 18. I have so many memories. There was a dormitory for the boys and another for the girls, each with about 30 beds. It was great! There’s nothing like having all of your friends around when you’re a kid.”
Richard was in and out of the hospital until he was 18 years old, receiving treatment for his spine. “We did all sorts of fun activities, including theatre, which I loved! We did the set décor and we were the actors. We presented our plays to the patients, their families, and staff. In addition to my parents, it was the nurses who raised me. They taught me to be positive and respectful.”
Richard went on to enjoy many hobbies as a teen and young adult, discovering his passion for both music and sports. He played the drums, percussion, and guitar, and participated in sports such as basketball, tennis, swimming, and sailing. He became an elite sailor and won many notable races, including the Mobility Cup in 2008. “I made my way despite the circumstances,” he says. While he met many challenges on his path through life, he always had an open mind and a generous spirit and says he will be forever grateful to Shriners Hospitals for Children – Canada.
Shriners Hospitals for Children – Canada is among a network of healthcare facilities across Canada, the United States, and Mexico. Together we are celebrating 100 years of providing specialized care to children all over the world.
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For more than 90 years Shriners Hospitals for Children — Canada’s board-certified surgeons and staff have been providing high-quality orthopedic care. Every member of our team, from surgeons and therapists, to nurses and prosthetists, work together to ensure the best course of treatment for each patient in a family-centred environment.