TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — The triumphant stories of three local families are featured in “Where Dreams Come True,” an award-winning documentary film that chronicles the journeys of children whose lives were forever changed by Shriners Hospitals for Children – Northern California.
Country Music Hall of Fame singer, songwriter and actor Kris Kristofferson narrates the film, which won a 2014 Telly Award. Kristofferson traveled to the Shriners Hospital in Sacramento to film the narration for the documentary.
Patients from the Reno-Truckee area include: Jason Craig, who sought spinal cord injury care at Shriners Hospital after he was paralyzed in a kayak accident; Makiah Barclay, who was transported to Shriners Hospital for its pediatric burn care; and Olivia Prisco, born with cerebral palsy.
MEET OLIVIA PRISCO
Olivia is a 10-year-old fourth-grader at Glenshire Elementary School. She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy (CP) in May 2006 at 16-months-old.
“We saw a developmental pediatrician, a pediatric neurologist, and several other specialists,” said Marjie Prisco, Olivia’s mother., who was told about Shriners Ho “Then, a few months later, I was given contact information for another mother in Truckee whose daughter had CP. In addition to the great support and reassurance she gave me, she also told me about Shriners. Dr. Arth at North Lake Pediatrics was more than happy to give us the referral, and that was the beginning of our amazing experience with Shriners Hospital. I can’t tell you how grateful we are that we found them.”
Olivia’s initial treatment was a combination of weekly physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy due to her diagnosis of “developmental delays,” at Shriners about every six months. At age 3, doctors recommended she get Botox injections. According to Marjie, her type of CP, spastic diplegia, causes the muscles in her legs to fire constantly, creating stiffness, inwardly rotated hips, knees, and feet, and in Olivia’s case, the inability to walk. The treatments were successful. At 3 and a half, Olivia began to walk.
In October of 2011, Olivia’s doctor at Shriners asked the family to meet with Dr. Jon Davids, who had relocated from the Greenville, S.C. Shriners. He was performing radical surgeries on children with CP and having great success.
The Prisco family was overwhelmed at the extent of the suggested surgery: Davids wanted to cut and rotate both of Olivia’s femurs, one of her tibia, lengthen the tendons in her Achilles and hamstrings, and transfer muscles from the back of her knees to the front. After seeing before and after videos of similar procedures, the family acquiesced. Olivia had the surgery in February of 2012 at age 8.
GETTING BETTER ALL THE TIME
Post surgery was challenging, as Olivia was in a wheelchair for eight weeks, but she has gained much more mobility since.
At Glenshire Elementary, teachers and staff have been supportive from the get-go, making school a place where Olivia loves to be.
“The school district has provided physical therapy, occupational therapy, and an adaptive PE teacher who provides support during PE time,” said Marjie. “Prior to the surgery, Olivia really struggled with balance, her walking was very awkward, and she moved much more slowly than the other children. It was hard for her to keep up, she often fell down, and it was very easy for her to be unintentionally knocked down by other children from the tiniest bit of contact.
“Post-surgery, we have seen dramatic improvements, and while Olivia still faces some physical challenges, she struggles much less to keep up with her peers. She can now walk backwards, jump a little bit, and has developed her own little running style that is getting faster every day.”
Although at times Olivia questions why she can’t do all the physical things she wants to do, and why she has to be “different,” Marjie is constantly amazed at her daughter’s positive attitude and strength. “She is a spitfire and never gives up!” said Marjie.
When Olivia was asked what makes her smile, she replied, “Beef tenderloin, candy, and you (mom).” Marjie might add being stubborn and harassing her older sister Elena to that list.
Marjie had this to say about participating in the documentary: “Bill Bayne, the director, and his cameraman, Chris Robson, were incredibly warm and caring, and quickly became our friends. And I think we really felt that feeling of becoming a part of the Shriners family. Olivia felt like a movie star when we went to the first premier in Sacramento, and I think it was really good for her to see how her experience could help other children and their families.
“For myself, I learned so much more about what the Shriners Hospitals do for children, and it was a catalyst to do something I had been wanting to do for several years … start a nonprofit to raise money to support the research that Shriners does to help improve the lives of children.”
Other Shriners Hospital patients featured in the film include a former rodeo rider, a burn survivor who is wise beyond his years, a young boy born with a bone disease that caused abnormal growths, and a young girl who discovers a new life when she is fitted with a prosthetic leg.
Hundreds of area children receive care at Shriners Hospitals for Children – Northern California, a regional pediatric medical center serving Northern California and Northern Nevada that provides specialized care to children with orthopaedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries and scars from any cause.
“Where Dreams Come True” was produced by William Criswell of Inception Marketing and William Bayne of Coyote Films. The film will premiere in Reno on Thursday, Feb. 20, The Grove, 95 Foothill Road. If you are interested in attending this special event call 775-856-3330.
For more information about the documentary film visit http://myshrinershospital.org.