Written by Jim Mendoza - firstname.lastname@example.org
At Shriners Hospital for Children a game of chasing bubbles is physical therapy for eight-year-old Jax Aarruda. The Big Island boy suffers from a neuromuscular problem that kept him from walking. Recently he had surgery on both legs. He's another Shriners success story. So is 18-year-old Hang Sok from Cambodia. An operation repaired his left foot. It used to face the wrong way.
"Now it's straight and the ankle is good," he said.
Since Shriners opened a Honolulu hospital in 1923, more than 25,000 children with orthopedic problems have been treated free of charge.
"I'm a single mom and there's just no way that we could afford that," Kathy Fehn said. "And to just have her free of pain is wonderful."
Fehn's daughter, Natasha, was born with abnormally high arches.
"They made these orthotics. I put them in my shoes. Life goes on," Natasha said.
Eighty percent of Shriners patients are from Hawaii. The rest travel here for treatment from the mainland or foreign countries.
"The people are very nice, very kind, gentle, friendly," Hang said.
Jax is a poster child for what Shriners surgeons and medical staff can do.
"They relocated his hip. They also lengthened his tendons behind his knees to straighten his legs out so that he may be able to walk," his mother, Jessica, said.
Soon Shriners will have a new hospital on its old site. The time-tested approach to healing remains the same.
"They brought me one thing any kid would love to have -- happiness," said amputee Papu Utu,
The new building opens in June.