Shriner Magazine Spring 2023

The Snow Road to Shriners Children’s


To this day, I blame much of the misadventure on Hannah. My wife’s friend had volunteered to dog-sit Hannah, my wife’s treasured Lhasa Apso, while we drove our son from our home in Seattle, Washington, to Shriners Children’s Portland for surgery.

IT SHOULD HAVE JUST TAKEN an hour to drop Hannah off on the way. But two drives, a ferry ride, a big hill and a very big snowstorm posed barriers no one expected. It had been an uphill climb just to get to this point. Our son Jeremy had been born with a cleft palate, a serious medical condition that had required three surgeries while he was still a baby. Growing up, he had endured many more procedures and the cruel teasing of his classmates. His doctors were able to make occasional progress for Jeremy, but it was determined that further intervention should wait until he had passed a growth period, and the prognosis for a successful surgery was enhanced. The time seemed right in fall 1990. Jeremy needed a medical team specializing in pediatric facial/cranial surgeries to rebuild his face using, among many resources, a bone extracted from his hip. One such super-team was located at Shriners Children’s Portland. But we were advised that the wait for care would be more than a year, by which time Jeremy would be past 18 and ineligible for treatment at Shriners Children’s. That is when my Uncle Walker stepped in to save the day. Uncle Walker was a Shriner, a member of Al Malaikah Shriners. Elected to the Imperial Divan, Walker Kisselburgh served as Imperial Potentate in 1985-1986. Like all nobles, he took great pleasure in being able to help children get the medical care they need. In 1990, he had the opportunity to help his own nephew.

His assistance was instrumental in getting our son into Shriners Children’s Portland before he turned 18. With Uncle Walker’s help, we were able to navigate mountains of paperwork outlining the need and urgency for Jeremy’s care. Having Walker Kisselburgh’s signature helped open the doors of Shriners Children’s in time for our son. A firm and immoveable surgery date was set for the second week of December. We planned to travel to Portland the day before the surgery. It was a 200-mile drive straight down I-5. All we had to do was drop off Hannah on the way, adding about an hour to the trip. Enter one of the most impactful northwest snowstorms in decades. What should have been an easy drive turned into a vehicular version of the Iditarod. Seattle media started making dire prognostications early in the week, scaring everyone into clearing grocery shelves and grab- bing up every set of tire chains in the region. We were faced with making the trek in our tractionless Nissan compact coupe: I would be tasked with getting us safely to Shriners Children’s without snow tires, chains, or any skills or experience driving in snow. First we had to deliver Hannah to her dog-sitter, Allison. Getting to Allison’s house entailed a drive, then a ferry ride, then continu- ing on the road. The snow began in earnest during the ferry ride. By the time we got to Allison’s, it had become the “Snowmaged- don” predicted by the local TV, radio and print weather teams.



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2/27/23 9:22 AM

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