Giving thanks and giving back
Haley Kestory understands what it means to be truly thankful.
In 2006, she was diagnosed with scoliosis at a routine doctors visit, and was referred to Arnold Palmer Hospital. For the next two years Haley wore an orthopedic scoliosis brace for 8 hours each night. As she grew, and the scoliosis got worse, she was required to wear the brace during the day as well, totaling 16 hours each day in her brace. After a number of follow up visits to her doctor, Haley learned that the deformity of her spine had reached an angle of 58 degrees. Surgery was the only real option at this point.
In 2009, Haley and her family toured Arnold Palmer Hospital as part of Haley’s preparation for surgery. It was on this visit she met another teen going through the same treatment for the correction of scoliosis. Forming this relationship made a lasting impression on Haley. She realized the importance of having someone to walk through treatment with and having someone that understands exactly what you’re going through.
In December 2009, Haley underwent surgery to correct her scoliosis. The surgery was a success and a tremendous step towards straightening her spine and allowing her to return to normal activities. Haley was thankful to be finished with her orthopedic scoliosis braces and to have her life back. Soon after her surgery, Haley was back to the things she loved the most, including playing volleyball.
Remembering the friend she met on her hospital tour, Haley decided to help other teens through her experience. Haley says, “After my surgery, I was inspired to help others dealing with scoliosis, so I created a Facebook support group just for teens, called, A Teenager's Guide On How To Cope With Scoliosis." The group is designed to be a safe place for teens and their family to discuss the ups and downs of scoliosis and offer support to each other. The group has grown to more than 430 members.
Haley’s mom, Lisa, also recognizes the importance of being thankful and giving back. For her last birthday, in place of gifts, Lisa asked that her friends and family make a donation to Arnold Palmer Hospital. Lisa’s generosity raised $500 for the hospital that her family has grown to love.
Haley decided to continue giving back this summer by selling shirts to raise money for the hospital. The shirts that read, “I’ve got your back,” also aim to raise awareness of scoliosis and the available treatment. Soon after Haley began selling the shirts, the orders started pouring in, thanks in part to her Facebook support group. Haley has sold shirts to people all across the US and in several countries around the world. Haley says the shirts were just a small step, but raised $400 for Arnold Palmer Hospital.
The gifts that Haley and Lisa provided to Arnold Palmer Hospital are deeply appreciated. As a community based, not-for-profit hospital, continued support by our community is crucial to the success and development of our programs, like the pediatric orthopedic program that corrected Haley’s scoliosis.
In the spirit of thanksgiving, if you’re thankful for Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies or the Howard Phillips Center for Children & Families, please consider making a gift online. Gifts of any size will make a lasting impact and will allow us to continue to care for the children and families of Central Florida, who we are thankful to serve.