Gizeh Shriners of BC-Yukon raise funds to support 22 Shrine hospitals in North America that provide free health care services for children.
Linda Bannon and her 11-year-old son, Tim, who have both received treatment and support at the Shrine hospital in Chicago will be the guest speakers at the Shriners of BC-Yukon Spring Ceremonial 2016 taking place in Williams Lake this Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Linda and Tim will be the guest speakers at the formal dinner and dance that will be held at Thompson Rivers University on Saturday evening.
Linda and Tim were both born without arms, a condition known as Holt-Oram syndrome, or heart/hand syndrome due to its effect on the fetal development of the heart and upper extremities.
At just a few months old Linda and her family were referred to the Shrine hospital in Chicago where she received physical and occupational therapy and was fitted with several pairs of prostheses.
After graduating high school Linda took the skills and confidence gained from her time at Shriners and went on to become an elementary school teacher for more than 10 years in suburban Chicago public schools.
As a teacher she found a new calling as a motivational speaker.
“I am still trying to find my niche on the speaking circuit and am passionate about anti-bullying, disability awareness and the power of the human spirit,” Bannon says.
While her parents were not aware that she had Holt-Oram syndrome until after she was born, Linda knew there was a 50/50 chance that Tim would also be born with the autosomal dominant genetic condition.
Doctors identified that Tim did have Holt-Oram while he was still in the womb and that he would require cardiac surgery just days after his birth.
“He’s a strong little fighter,” Linda says.
“Once Tim had recovered enough from his cardiac surgery we contacted the staff at SHC Chicago and began Tim’s journey with them.
“He has received physical, occupational and recreation therapy along with social/emotional support. Tim is growing up strong and confident with services from the hospital.”