Shriners Hospitals for Children Introduces 2012-2013 Patient Ambassadors

Friday, July 6, 2012
Jeremy Gabriel and Hunter Woodall  
(l-r) Jérémy Gabriel and Hunter Woodall

Hunter Woodhall from Syracuse, Utah, and Jérémy Gabriel from Quebec City, Canada, have been selected as the health care system’s patient ambassadors for 2012-2013. The announcement was made on July, 4, 2012, after the premiere of their video: “Two Worlds Apart – One Place of Hope” during the Imperial Session of Shriners International (National Convention)  in Charlotte, N.C.

Every year, Shriners Hospitals for Children® chooses two patient ambassadors to represent the thousands of children who receive care at the health care system’s 22 facilities annually, regardless of their ability to pay. The Ambassadors will share their stories to inspire others and raise awareness of Shriners Hospitals for Children. Meet Hunter Woodhall and Jérémy Gabriel, the Athlete and the Artist.

The Athlete

He plays basketball, football and soccer; he wrestles; he runs track, snow skis, swims and roller blades, all with two prosthetic legs.

Hunter Woodhall, 13, was born with fibular hemimelia of the left leg. The condition is a shortening or absence of one of the two bones in the calf, which may require amputation or bone-lengthening procedures to correct. In addition, his right ankle was fused. 

The Woodhalls had a difficult time finding information about Hunter’s conditions. After exploring options that offered no real hope, the Woodhalls contacted Shriners Hospitals for Children.

After consulting with a team of experts at the Tampa, Fla., facility, the Woodhalls proceeded with the amputation of Hunter’s feet. After his surgery – at just 11 months old – Hunter was soon walking and running around. He hasn’t stopped since.

Later, the Woodhalls moved to Syracuse, Utah, where Hunter became a patient of Shriners Hospitals for Children – Salt Lake City. Hunter is a straight A student and an accomplished athlete. The team of experts at Shriners Hospitals for Children – Salt Lake City has always provided options to help Hunter be able to do anything he wants to do, including fitting him with some of the first Flex-Foot Cheetah custom feet that the hospital had ever provided, as well as special liners for wrestling, in addition to his prosthetic legs for daily use.

The Artist

He has sung for both Céline Dion and the Pope; he has recorded two albums and co-authored a book. He was born deaf.

Jérémy Gabriel, 15, of Quebec City, Canada, was born prematurely with severe facial malformations and other complications requiring intensive care. Jérémy was finally diagnosed at 6 months with Treacher Collins Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder. In addition to head, skull and facial deformities, children with this condition generally have absent or malformed ears, which can cause hearing loss. 

Jérémy was referred to Shriners Hospitals for Children – Canada at the age of 5 for treatment. There, the family met Lucie Lessard, M.D., a plastic and craniofacial surgeon. Dr. Lessard suggested a BAHA (Bone Anchored Hearing Aid) Implant. Jérémy received his implant in June 2003, at age 6. After the surgery, Jérémy was fascinated with sound, and discovered he could sing. In fact, he has perfect pitch. Jérémy is scheduled for additional surgery later this year to reconstruct his cheekbones, as well as surgery on his jaw, which should improve his breathing, chewing and appearance.

Jérémy now attends a high school specializing in performing arts, where he is an excellent student. He is preparing for a career in the music business.

About Shriners Hospitals for Children
Shriners Hospitals for Children is changing lives every day through innovative pediatric specialty care, world-class research and outstanding medical education. The 22 facilities in the United States, Canada and Mexico provide advanced care for children with orthopaedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate. For more information, visit www.shrinershospitalsforchildren.org.

Shriners Hospitals for Children is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and relies on the generosity of donors. All donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent permitted by law.