140 year of Shriners

140 year of Shriners

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sports: Shriners find, befriend Laurel family

BY Sharon Krug Outlook Staff
Addison Benson's face was all sunshine and smiles as she joyfully played with her 5-year-old sister, Josie, on the playset in her backyard Wednesday. She clambered up the rock wall, flew down the slide and begged her mother to push her higher on the swing.

Three-year-old Addison is the 2011 poster child for the Al Bedoo Shrine organization and it will be she who throws the opening coin toss for the East-West Shrine Game Saturday at the Laurel Sports Complex.

Considering her cherub-like face and sweet, outgoing personality, it's easy to see why the Al Bedoo Shriners chose Addison to represent their work.

A year ago, July 27, Addison, the daughter of Syd and Andrea Benson of Laurel, was the victim of an unfortunate lawn mower accident that resulted in both legs being amputated below the knee.

Within two days of the accident, the Shriners organization contacted the Bensons with offers of help and has continued to zealously provide support for the family.

“We didn't have to find them, they tracked us down,” said Andrea. There were at least four Shriners who wanted to sponsor Addison.”
In the end, Ken Fichtner took on Addison's sponsorship. He checks on her regularly, brought her a 100-pound pumpkin for Halloween, and invited the family to the Shriners Christmas party and circus.

Other Laurel Shriners have shown acts of kindness as well.

“They have gone above and beyond the call of duty,” said Andrea. “They have been quick, fast and on top of Addison's case.

“It's kind of a partnership,” she said.
The Shriners put the Bensons in contact with Jim Middleton of Billings Prosthetics whom Andrea said has gone the extra mile to insure her daughter's comfort.

Addison proudly displayed the pink and purple Barbie and fairy patterns on her new legs.

“Jim found out what Addison's interests were and bought fabrics from which she could choose to laminate the prosthetics with,” explained Andrea.

Last October the family made the trip to Shriners Hospital for Children in Spokane and at last Addison was fitted with her prosthetics.

The procedure was delayed for some time because Addison suffered a broken femur in the accident and physicians wanted to wait until the leg could bear weight.

Andrea said the hospital was quick, efficient and family friendly. Rather than a series of appointments spread throughout the day, all healthcare providers involved with Addison's case met in one room at once.

Within weeks of the fitting, Addison was walking.

“Addison does almost everything other children her age do,” said Andrea. “She gets her own toys, climbs into her car seat - I try to allow her to do as many things as possible for herself.”

As this year's poster child, Addison, along with her family, has represented the Shrine organization at several functions. Her photo was on the front on the postcard announcing the Al Bedoo Shrine Circus and standing in center ring she opened the circus with the announcement, “Welcome everybody!”

The Bensons will be heavily involved with this week's Montana East-West Shrine game activities. Addison will ride at the head of the parade. The family will attend pre-game events, and Andrea will speak to the ball players at a banquet.

“I don't like the spotlight,” said Andrea. “This is all out of my comfort zone, but I want to give back. The players should be aware of the cause they are playing for.

“The whole process has been humbling - to think complete strangers would help us, to do whatever it takes. Sometimes it's hard to accept. It's heartwarming to think the Shriners signed on without question for 15 years of Addison's treatment.

“Addison is a success story,” her mother said. “She is proof that something good can come out of a bad situation. I want to get the word out there that there is no limit to the capabilities of children with limb loss.”

“The Shriners have been very instrumental in the progress of Addison's recovery,” said Andrea. “There was much to do to get her going.”

“I don't know where we'd be without them,” she concluded. 

For printed copy go to  www.laureloutlook.com/articles/2011/07/13/sports/15addi.txt

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