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Shriners grand marshal faces unexpected challenges

The Sanders/Bahr family is shown in the kitchen of their home in New Richmond. From left: Stella Sanders, Cynda Sanders, Payton Bahr, Alayna Bahr and Jeff Sanders. Submitted photo1 / 2
Payton Bahr is shown with her younger sister Stella. Submitted photo2 / 2

When Cynda and Jeff Sanders of New Richmond took their 8-year-old daughter Payton Bahr to the emergency room that fateful day they thought she had just come down with something.

As it turned out it, she was diagnosed with Scoliosis of the spine. An X-ray soon revealed her spine had a 25-degree curve, which if not corrected would only get worse.

The course of treatment called for wearing a brace for the next two years. She had a hard time sleeping and the brace was very uncomfortable. She was even taken to an intense restorative boot camp for two weeks in Green Bay.

That gave them hope, but she had to endure the brace for two hours a day and it held her spine

somewhat in place.

It became obvious that this was not working out for the long term and was very costly.

About this time Cynda had started to look into Shriners as an option. She learned the Shriners

Hospital for Children in Philadelphia did vertical body tethering, but she didn't know how to go

from there.

As it worked out, a friend of Bahr's knew a Shriner named Larry Wiegant. Cynda gave him a call and he got her in touch with the doctors at Shriners in the Twin Cities.

At this point the curvature was at 82 degrees. This was way too far and fusion was considered.

The family met with the doctors at Shriners. By the time she began treatment Bahr's spine

was at 90 degrees.

After a nine-hour surgery, she was given titanium rods on both sides of her spine anchored by

screws to restore her to only 10 degrees.

The family was not prepared for the pain of recovery, but Bahr said Shriners was very "kid-focused." She underwent a week in recovery at the Masonic Children's Hospital and had

frequent follow-up appointments. The hospital did a good job of refocusing her from the pain

following surgery.

Bahr has a picture of how she looked before and today she is a healthy young teen. She took

up dance for two years and even tried track and field, but was concerned what physical impact might do to her.

This determined young lady missed a whole semester in sixth grade, but quickly made up her

work, even while battling through the pain. She is now going into eighth grade.

She lives with her blended family in a picturesque New Richmond home with her mom and dad, her 15-year-old sister Alayna Bahr, and 5-year-old sister Stella Sanders and a very friendly and loveable cat named Waldo, who also sat in on the interview.

To see Payton Bahr today you would never know the trials this articulate teenager has been through.

Payton Bahr will serve as the Grand Marshal of the Shriners Little East West Shrine game

parade on Saturday, Oct. 13 in River Falls. She will be introduced before the game at the 50-yard line.