Giving back with blankets
Somerset High School senior and student council member Meghan Erickson wanted to give back to the Shriner’s Hospitals for Children and she found a way to do it.
National Honor Society and student council members donated time and materials, along with high school counselor Jenna Evenson, to make more than 20 blankets to donate to the Shriner’s Hospital in Minneapolis.
Students gathered in the high school’s media center on Friday, March 7, during Polar Daze week to assemble the tie blankets.
Erickson has spent a lot of time at the Shriner’s Hospital, which specializes in orthopaedics, burn care, spinal cord injury and cleft lip and palate, regardless of a family’s ability to pay.
Erickson had one of her legs amputated when she was six months old thanks to amniotic band syndrome, a condition in utero which cut circulation off to her leg.
According to Wikipedia, amniotic band syndrome “is often difficult to detect before birth as the individual strands (of fibrous amniotic bands) are small and hard to see on ultrasound. Often the bands are detected indirectly because of the constrictions and swelling upon limbs, digits, etc.”
“I’ve had multiple surgeries since I was 1-year-old,” Erickson said. “The care at the Shriner’s Hospital is free for patients and families don’t need insurance. I can see them until I’m 21.”
Erickson has a prosthetic leg and has been fitted for many over the years. She said they also specialize in braces and wheelchairs.
Despite losing her leg at a young age, Erickson has not let that stop her from doing what she wants.
“It hasn’t slowed me down any,” Erickson said.
She participated in high school volleyball for three years, and also trained in Colorado for a couple of years as a member of the U.S. Paralympic Alpine skiing team.
“I participated in skiing events at Trollhaugen, but they didn’t have much for competitive adaptive programs,” Erickson said.
According to Erickson, the Shriner’s Hospital is kid-friendly. Patients there often receive toys and comfort items, like blankets, which is why she thought hosting a blanket drive would be a great way to “give back.”
Evenson also holds the Shriner’s Hospital dear to her heart, because her husband spent a lot of time there as well.
“Ms. Evenson’s husband went there as a kid,” Erickson said. “We both have ties and I just wanted to give back something.”
Evenson said her husband is missing his right arm, so she wholeheartedly supported Erickson’s idea and helped make it a reality.
Evenson also said she is thrilled that this year is the first time ever that the Paralympics have been covered extensively on TV. According to Erickson, the Paralympics are always three weeks after the Olympics in the same location.
This year’s Paralympics is especially special to Somerset students: John Oman, Evenson’s husband, is competing in Sochi as a Para Nordic skier.