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Meet Christian, Shriners Children’s Florida’s 2023 Standard Bearer Representative for the Shriners Children’s Open

Shriners Children’s Florida is proud to introduce its 2023 Standard Bearer for this year’s Shriners Children’s Open, an official PGA TOUR event taking place in Las Vegas this October.

Christian, a patient at Shriners Children's Florida, was chosen as one of the Patient Ambassadors throughout the country to represent the pediatric care network at the tournament, where he will serve as a Standard Bearer throughout the weekend, carrying the scores of professional golfers as they compete in the tournament. It is a rare “inside the ropes” opportunity at a PGA TOUR event, as well as the chance to share how Shriners Children’s has helped transform his life. We cannot wait to see him out on the greens alongside other patients representing the Shriners Children's mission.

More About Christian

Patient Ambassador Christian was born in 2006, and at 23 months old he was diagnosed with infantile idiopathic scoliosis. This means that Christian’s scoliosis developed at a very young age and with no known reason. No two cases of scoliosis are alike, and early detection is key to caring for this condition.

Christian’s medical journey started in Greenville, South Carolina, where Shriners Children’s orthopedic surgeon, Peter Stasikelis, M.D., began treating his curve with a non-surgical technique called Mehta casting. This approach is an effective option for children diagnosed under the age of 3, before any large growth spurts occur. Serial casting is a big commitment and once applied, the cast hardens and stays on for two to three months before transitioning to a new one. In Christian’s case, stabilizing his spine using this method meant four different Mehta casts over a period of 22 months.

When his family relocated to Sarasota in 2016, Christian transferred to Shriners Children’s Florida. Since then, the team in the Pediatric Orthotic and Prosthetic Services (POPS) department have monitored Christian’s spine, providing him with braces and shoe inserts he needs to help him manage his condition.

The care provided by Shriners Children’s has prevented Christian’s curve from progressing to the point of needing surgery. His overall mobility is increasing, and he is becoming more active in both family and community activities.
Kerri, Christian's mother

A go-to favorite for him is cycling. Not long after learning how to ride a bike, Christian joined a local nonprofit called Adventure for All (AFA), an all-inclusive adventure program focused on enhancing the skills and confidence for athletes of all abilities. His first competitive race with AFA was in 2022, where he took on a gravel course in Lincoln, Nebraska. He completed it after two hours and 45 minutes of riding, and vowed to return to Gravel Worlds this fall to do it all again. On August 26, Christian did just that. He finished his first ever 7-mile gravel bike race, traveling over a total of 11 plus hours to the finish line where his family and supporters embraced him.

Christian is also a trained ballroom dancer. He started taking lessons when he was 11, and now he is hooked. Today, Christian enjoys being a part of the Junior Dance Competition team for his studio, Dynasty Dance Clubs. He has won numerous first-place awards competing in the solo and rhythm categories, and most notably the Top Junior Couples Award at the 2018 Florida Classic Series ballroom competition. Christian’s big sister, Madyson, is also an accomplished ballroom dancer, so they often pair up together for performances.

When he is not competing, Christian enjoys playing video games and mastering his Kendama abilities. Kendama is a Japanese skill toy that can be held in different grips with an endless amount of skill combinations. Christian likes showcasing the tricks he has learned over the years, and has been known to encourage bystanders to get in on the fun.

As a Patient Ambassador, Christian has participated in commercials and photoshoots that have been used system-wide for Shriners Children’s social media marketing and national giving campaigns. He has also attended and performed at various fundraising events, earning standing ovations for his ballroom routines. Yet, his favorite thing about his ambassador role is the opportunity he has to further his public speaking skills while also being an advocate for others.

“Raising awareness about scoliosis is very important to our family because the condition is not always immediately visible,” Kerri said. “We just want other families to remember there is always hope, and thanks to the team at Shriners Children’s, they are not alone.”

More About POPS

Shriners Children’s POPS designs, fits and manufactures orthotics and prosthetics for children, from infants to teenagers to young adults. These devices – including shoe inserts, braces and artificial limbs (both arms and legs) – provide the support children need to meet their full potential and pursue their dreams. For more information on POPS and how to schedule an appointment, please call 800-237-5055 today.

Then and Now

Take a look back at Christian's journey, ambassadorship and other accomplishments.

Christian wearing a Mehta cast. Christian's medical journey began at Shriners Children's Greenville, where doctors treated his scoliosis with Mehta casting.

Christian proudly poses with each of his back braces, customized for him by the team in POPS.

Christian meets past Imperial Potentate Kenny Craven after speaking to nobles at the 2023 Assistant Rabban Conference in Tampa, FL.

Christian riding his bike. Christian loves cycling and just finished his first ever 7-mile gravel bike race, which was an over 11- hour ride to the finish line.

Pictured: Christian dancing. Christian is a trained ballroom dancer who started taking lessons when he was 11 years old.

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Nuestros pacientes y familias son el centro de todo lo que hacemos en Shriners Children's. Lo invitamos a compartir cómo el equipo de Shriners Children's ayudó a su hijo.

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A través de la generosidad de donantes como usted, hemos podido ayudar a que más de un millón de niños lleven una vida más plena, independientemente de la capacidad de pago de la familia.


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