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On Angels Wings First Lady Judy Burke

On Angel's Wings: First Lady Judy Burke

Women Impacting Care, chaired by Shriners International’s First Lady, is a thoughtful group of women donors, supporters and advocates who have bonded together to help highlight services and programs of Shriners Children’s. This year, First Lady Judy Burke has chosen to focus on Shriners Children’s mission to provide life-changing care to children with burns with her program, “On Angels’ Wings."
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Judy Burke, First Lady

Whenever Richard started this journey, many years ago, we decided that we were going to tell the story of our granddaughter, and let everything we do highlight her and what she went through and what we went through at Shriners Children's. The tragedy we went through helped me realize that there are different levels of care, and Shriners Children's is the best care anywhere. I have chosen the name On Angels' Wings this year for my project, and the reason that I have chosen On Angels' Wings is because everyone in this room is an angel to these children. You are supporting a child with your contribution. Through this program, you will be helping families cope, heal, and hopefully prevent a burn tragedy from happening. In fact, you may be able to save a life of a child.

Arlene Burns, BSN, RN, CPN, PACU Nurse, Shriners Children’s Ohio:

Leah was a large burn, 81.5%, and at that age, and that percent burn, especially a scald, you know it's going to be rough.

Kathy Zaeske, MSN, RN, Director of Patient Care Services, Shriners Children’s Ohio:

From the moment they first did her dressing change and kind of assessed her and everything, you could tell the gravity and the seriousness of her injury.

Arlene Burns:

I remember being there when our doctors informed them that it was quite a deep burn, and it was like the devastation happened all over again.

Judy Burke:

The number one thing that Shriners did with our family was help us through this tragedy. When we got to the hospital, we didn't realize the severity of the burns, and they took us under their wing. They showed us the facilities, they took us to their research department to show us what they were going to do and help her be what she needed to be. It was just the most amazing experience.

Kathy Zaeske:

I will just say that for someone who had such a tragic, devastating event to happen to their family, and they took that opportunity to turn that into helping other children is phenomenal. And to increase awareness about scalds, for one thing, it's always a risk for babies. Things happen, and it happens in the blink of an eye. So if you can increase that awareness to families, new mothers, new dads, so that they have that in the back of their mind of, "Hey, I really need to be aware."

Sara M. Higginson, M.D., Chief of Staff, Shriners Children’s Ohio:

Putting a spotlight on burn prevention, I'm very grateful for. I think it's something that gets missed often, I think. Until an accident happens, you don't realize that setting a cup of coffee down on the table could end up with your toddler having a graft all the way to their wrist because they put their hand in and now they have full thickness burns to the wrist. And so I think if you raise awareness and really get people talking about these ways to prevent these injuries, it would have such an impact on the lives of so many children. Just by being aware of these small things, we can prevent quite a few accidents.

Judy Burke:

Shriners Children's treat all kinds of burns, from scalds, electrical, chemical, and flame. We have facilities in Boston, Ohio, Texas, and Northern Cal, and we are continuing to build on our burn program. We have learned that the burn care at Shriners is the best care anywhere. All the technologies, all the procedures that they do. They also provide recreational occupational therapy for these children, and most important in my mind is the psychological treatment that they receive. It helps these children be perfectly fine with their disabilities that they may have.

We also provide them prosthetics and orthotics. It's just an amazing thing that we do. And our psychology department go into the schools before those children go back to school, and help the children at the school realize that there's going to be a difference, and that this child is no different inside. It is amazing to me that we step out of the box and do that for these kids. The care that they get afterwards with the support groups, I mean, I just can't even say. This is just the most amazing thing that could happen to a child, is to be at Shriners Children's with their tragedies, because it is the best place to be.

Through the years, we have met some amazing patients, and they have become the spokespeople for Shriners Children's through their treatment at the hospital. They are just like anyone else, and they just blossom in life, and it just amazes me that a child doesn't lose their drive, and that is what Shriners Children's do for these kids.

Courtney, Patient, Shriners Children’s Ohio:

When I was 13 or 12, I was in a very bad severe car accident with an 18-wheeler, and I had flew out the car because if I didn't, I wouldn't be here today because back of the car was smooshed. And so I flew out and I was this far away from the engine, so that's why I think I got burned. I felt like a whole dream. It didn't feel like any of it was real. I was just waiting until I woke up, but it wasn't that dream. It was real life. I was like eight to six months in the hospital. And the nurses at my old hospital, Winston Salem, they were good, but it's nothing compared to the Shriners because the Shriners are like... they're more like family, because I can connect to them better.

Sara Higginson:

Pediatric burn patients, they grow, they change, they need more surgeries and more care, and often insurance companies will say that it's cosmetic when it's truly about functional and quality life measures. I've worked for many other burn centers and was very excited to see an opening at Shriners, because Shriners, it isn't "Will the insurance company let me do it?" but "Does the child need it?" and then "Let's figure out how to get that done."


Shriners gave me... it gave me my life, back because with all the surgeries, I feel like more like myself than I used to.

Sara Higginson:

I think because of the way the system is set up and because as an organization, we fund travel and we are open to having children move between locations, I think bottom line, if the child needs it, we figure it out, and I have not worked any place that has been this fantastic.


I'm excited that Ms. Judy is raising money for kids like me with burns. It pays for surgeries and stuff that most families probably couldn't pay for because surgeries kind of like this or really, really expensive.

Judy Burke:

This year, with the program, I hope to accomplish more research, more educational guides for the doctors and the nurses, and also the burn prevention for us would've been knowing what to set your hot water heater on, and I don't feel that a lot of people realize this, but through educating people about what your hot water heater should be set on, we can prevent a lot of scalds for our children.

And in order to support the project, we have several things that you can purchase. We have a pendant, earrings, and a bracelet for ladies with interchangeable ribbons so you can change the colors. We also have a lapel pin, the cufflinks, and the button covers for the men. Whenever we wear these pieces of jewelry, the bracelet, the pendant, the earrings, that a lot of people will notice them, and they will be asking about the pieces of jewelry that you're wearing. This is your opportunity to share with them that this is a product that I purchased to support the burn program at Shriners Children's, the prevention of burns, and also the education and the research to help burn children go on with their daily lives.


If I wouldn't have been at Shriners, I wouldn't know what I would be, where I would be, or how I would look, but I'm happy because now I look like myself again, I act like myself again, and just better.

Judy Burke:

We chose burn care for Leah and to keep her and show her the honor that she deserves. The people that we've met have enriched our lives and made us better people.

[On Angels’ Wings logo]

[Shriners Children’s logo]