Becci Selby Sutphin and Stephanie Selby Biffle vividly remember the moment when they learned that their cousins had been horrifically injured in an accident. It was 1983, and Jamie and Glen Selby, ages 5 and 7, were severely burned over 95 percent of their bodies. They were given little chance of survival. When local doctors learned of new experimental procedures in burn care at the Shriners Burns Institute (now Shriners Hospitals for Children — Boston), the boys were airlifted to Boston.
Howard Green, M.D., a Harvard researcher, had discovered a method of regenerating a person’s own skin cells. Dr. Green teamed up with doctors at the Boston Shriners Hospital to save the Selby brothers’ lives. By taking a patch of skin the size of a postage stamp from each of the boys, his team was able to grow new skin in large sheets called grafts. The boys underwent numerous procedures to place hundreds of grafts on their wounds, and were known to be the first to survive such extensive burns.
Becci and Stephanie’s parents, Frank and Terry Selby, remained very close to Jamie and Glen when they returned home to Wyoming. Terry, a registered nurse, would help with the boys' care when they visited. Hometown residents of Casper, Wyoming rallied around the boys and rejoiced in their homecoming. Becci remembers that the staff from the Boston Shriners Hospital sent a videotape with information on what the boys had been through and what support they would need. It was a start, but she recalls that no one was truly prepared for the full extent of their injuries.
The Selby family has forever been grateful to Dr. Green and the Boston Shriners Hospital staff for saving the boys’ lives, and their connection to the hospital’s mission runs deep. Following his nephews’ hospital stay, Frank Selby became a Mason, the first step to becoming a Shriner. He has been a member of Korein Temple Shriners since 1992, and later embarked on the ten-year journey to become Potentate (the Temple’s leader) with his wife Terry by his side. Together they envisioned Frank’s year as Potentate as one of fundraising for the Boston Shriners Hospital, with a special visit to Boston that happened to coincide with the hospital’s 50th anniversary. Sadly, Terry passed away suddenly four years ago, but the family was determined to carry on in her name.
Becci is an active member of the Ladies of the Oriental Shrine of North America and is currently a High Priestess of Kheta Court #59 in Wyoming. Her husband, Jesse, is a High Priest and Prophet in the Korein Divan. Stephanie has actively supported her family’s efforts throughout the years. Terry’s dear friend Linda Kostenbauer also stepped in to help fulfill Terry’s work. Over the past year, the family has raised money by organizing gift basket raffles at every Shrine club meeting, temple event, and even at the Pacific Northwest Shrine Association Conference. They also organized silent auctions and a Potentate Banquet.
When Becci learned that school and community reintegration programs have evolved tremendously in the past 35 years, she knew exactly how their donation could help. At the Boston Shriners Hospital, staff members create individual transition plans and educational materials when patients return to their communities, and often travel to schools to educate teachers and students. The program is a vital resource that helps kids transition back to the classroom after a burn, or other traumatic illness or injury.
Earlier this month, Shriners Hospitals for Children — Boston celebrated its 50th anniversary. The Selbys were there to mark the occasion and celebrate along with patients and families, staff, board members and friends of the hospital. They had an opportunity to speak with many of the people who cared for their family members and thank them. In front of a captive audience of 200 guests, Becci shared her cousins’ moving story and proudly presented Mr. Robert Baker, chairman of the board of governors, with a donation of over $26,000 for the hospital’s school re-entry program.
“There’s a heart behind every dollar and I am very proud of that,” Becci noted. As Frank reflected on the hospital’s 50th anniversary theme, “Proud of Our Past, Focused on our Future,” he said that he has been able to see the whole journey from the past to the future. He is eternally grateful to staff members for saving his nephews, for the ongoing commitment of caring for kids with serious burns and for the opportunity to help support the hospital into the future.
Thank you to the entire Selby family for your devotion and ongoing support of the patients and families at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Boston.
Refer a patient. Make a gift. Change a life.