Encouragement · Friendship · Hope · Relationship

Kaleigh: opening like a rose

Nobody knows how it feels to be a child on fire except other burned children. 

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Though I wasn’t burned as a child, I understand that many pediatric burn survivors turn into turtles.

They start hiding for a good reason.

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Kaleigh

Public scarring.

One of Ryan Shines’ burn kids, Kaleigh, was burned in an electrical fire.

She was severely burned on her arms, stomach, and upper legs.

She tended to keep her head down, feeling great shame.

Humiliation tried to take her down.

But our “Catching Courage” events raised her up.

I want you to meet the new version of Kaleigh.

She has spent much of her young life trying to come to terms with her burns.

And she is.

Even though the pain in her eyes was obvious, now you can see something new being born in her.

Kaleigh found her Sparkle. 

Let me give you an example.

She met a fellow 13-year-old burn survivor named ‘Lovely,’ and they began a wonderful friendship.

Every time they get together at one of our Catching Courage Events, they are inseparable and the sparks fly.IMG_7001

Their ‘God-sparks’ shine like polished steel. 

Let me tell you what happened to these girls early this month. 

One of our firefighters had overheard Kaleigh and Lovely talking together about their dreams of the future(this was at our Catching Courage family weekend).

They were saying how they wish they could be models someday but knew it would be impossible because of their scars.Kaleigh caught CC

Our firefighter shared how sad he was when he heard these two 13-year-old girls talking about their dreams of the future and what is not possible anymore.

A friend of his, who happens to own a dress shop–Jo Wells in Montgomery–decided to step into the situation, and open her shop and her heart to them.

“I want those girls to model my clothes in my shop,” she said.

So, she arranged a photoshoot and called us at “Ryan Shines” to invite the girls to come model for her.

The word spread like a great party.

Group Montg.
Heroes of Montgomery, AL Fire & Rescue

Countless firefighters from Montgomery climbed on board with us and even brought their big red firetruck.

Suddenly, there was an influx of new friends we didn’t know we had!

What a celebration!

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Lovely, Kaleigh and me

 

We were celebrating Kaleigh and Lovely!

And the dreams they were dreaming were already beginning to blossom. 

Kaleigh-dress

Don’t you just love that?!

dawn

BTW-(If this is something that you would like to support, please visit us at www.ryanshines.com or follow us on FB and IG @Ryanshinesburnfoundation)

Family · healing-over-pain · Hope · Relationship

Joe is a Superstar!

Joe Kinan was the most severely injured of the crowd who were burned in the fire at “The Station” nightclub in West Warwick, RI, on Feb. 20, 2003.

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Joe Kinan

The fire killed 100 people and injured more than 200.

For the past 16 years, Joe has been on a rugged journey of recovery, having had 148 surgeries.

Joe not only had to fight his way back from injuries that should have killed him, but he also developed a paralyzing fear of fire.

“I try to look at it and face up to it but it’s tough,” he told PEOPLE magazine: “Even if it’s just a candle with a one-inch flame, it’s like the size of a tree to me.”

Before the fire, Joe worked as much as possible—two or three jobs at a time.

He was also an amateur bodybuilder, spending hours working out and loving the “mental clarity that it brought.”

When the fire started, he immediately tried to get himself and his friend out the door.

She did not survive.

“I kept thinking about my daughter. I didn’t want her to not have a dad.”

Joe’s fitness as a bodybuilder helped him survive the fire, but his deeper source of strength came from his mental fitness.

At the 2007 World Burn Congress in Vancouver, Canada, Joe met Carrie Pratt, a fellow burn survivor, and they became close friends.

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Joe & Carrie Kinan

Three years later, Joe and Carrie began dating and eventually married in 2017.

In recent years, Joe received a hand transplant.

After lengthy rehab, he can now use a chef’s knife again (getting back to his love of cooking) and make his own cup of coffee in the morning.

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Kinan’s & me

Last summer Joe had several rejection episodes that caused him to lose all his fingernails and develop neuropathy in his hand.

Joe has learned a lot about the process of healing on his journey to recovery.

“Something I keep saying to myself is ‘’You end up a patient—now you have to be patient.”

Joe has started a real estate company flipping houses and likes to stay as physically fit as possible.

One more thing.

Another miracle.

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A baby girl.

BS-Joe Kinan family

Who is almost 6!

dawn

(I acknowledge my debt to the “Phoenix Society’s World Burn Congress” in the writing of this blog)

BTW-(If this is something that you would like to support, please visit us at www.ryanshines.com or follow us on FB and IG @dawnraymondhirn)

Grief · healing-over-pain · Hope · wounded healer

I’m STILL ME

Meet Sydney.Screen Shot 2019-10-21 at 6.57.38 PM

“My accident and rescue were like a miracle.

Here’s why.

My dad is a firefighter.

Really, he’s the battalion chief.

Which means he is not required to go to the scene of accidents.

He has a desk job.

But that afternoon, he overheard a call come in and something told him to respond to the accident personally.

When he got to the scene, he saw that it was my car and it was on fire.

He jumped out of his truck and ran to my car and, finding me unconscious, he got me out of the car and into the ambulance.

Remember I was unconscious the whole time.

I finally woke up in the hospital. I really didn’t know what had happened to me, but I was burned pretty bad.Screen Shot 2019-10-21 at 7.17.40 PM

They started telling me my story.

I kept thinking, “If it weren’t for my dad…if it weren’t for my dad.”

He saved me.

He saved my life.

Just after my accident, after the hospital, before I went back to school, I worried about the normal things a 16-year-old girl worries about; “with all my scars, will I have ever have a date or a boyfriend? “

I was so self-conscious about my scars!

But, then, all that worry hit me in the opposite way.

I became proud of my scars.

Can you believe it? They made me feel special.

Because I realized I’m still me!

 

I’m not saying it wasn’t hard.

Many times I would slip into the bathroom at school to cry.

After a while, when they stared at me, I stopped feeling ashamed.

Here’s why.

I kind of understood where they were coming from.

I remembered that I had done the same thing. I’d stared at people who looked different, too. 

My dream is to be a nurse.

I want to treat pediatric burn survivors.Screen Shot 2019-10-21 at 7.00.28 PM

I can really understand what’s going on inside them because I’ve been there myself.

I can help them through all the stages of fear and recovery because I’ve walked the same path they have and we’re still walking together.

No matter what, I will always be a burn survivor. “

dawn

BTW-(If this is something that you would like to support, please visit us at www.ryanshines.com or follow us on FB and IG @dawnraymondhirn)

Encouragement · healing-over-pain · Hope

“My accident gave me courage and determination”

“My name is Cody, I’m 18, and I just began my sophomore year in college.

Let me tell you about my accident.

Some people started a trash fire behind the old boathouse.cody argo 2

They poured boat fuel on it.

The fuel ignited with the flames and, suddenly, I was on fire!

I was three at the time, and I was burned over 70% of my body.

My biggest challenge was getting back to moving.

After the fire and 46 surgeries, I couldn’t move around.cody argo 4

I was just stiff and wanted to sit in one place and never move.

I don’t really ever think about my scars, they are a part of me and they’ve been there basically all my life.

Even when I was little I never let them hold me back, but it was hard not being able to do the stuff other kids were doing for a while and it made me jealous.

But it was that very jealousy showed me that, ‘’hey if I want to be like them I gotta work for it!’’

So I did.

When I look back, my accident was positive.

It made me work harder than others.

My accident gave me the courage and determination to do that!

If I could tell everybody what I’ve learned it’s this: ‘DON’T TAKE ANYTHING FOR GRANTED, because in a second your life could change, and things will never be the same.”

cody argo 5

And today?

Cody isn’t letting anything stop him, especially his scars.

“There haven’t been any huge problems.

My burns haven’t slowed me down at all.

Half the time I forget about them.”

 Cody’s story of perseverance has made him a regional winner in the Bryant-Jordan Scholarship’s Achievement category, which honors Alabama high school athletes” who have overcome personal hardship to excel on and off the field.

He has earned a $2,500 scholarship.

We at Ryan Shines respect him so much that we gave him our first “Ryan Hirn Memorial Scholarship.

cody

“I don’t want people to look at their scars and be ashamed; I want them to hold their head up and let their scars shine bright.

Our scars are beautiful!

Everyone says pictures are worth a thousand words . . . well, I’m a firm believer that scars are worth at least a million!

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dawn
Friendship · healing-over-pain · Hope · Relationship

Undercover Agents of Love

You’re not going to believe what happened to me last week in California!

I was attending the Phoenix World Burn Conference for burn survivors.

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Steve Joyner

There were about 800 of us.   

I say ‘us’ because I’m a burn survivor too, along with my husband and son, Tyler, who was a baby when we had the car accident.

It was that car fire that changed our lives completely because we lost our 7-year-old son, Ryan, in the fire. 

About the conference…I had come here with an agenda.

Like sharing Ryan’s Burn Foundation with my  ‘burn-survivor Tribe.’

My peeps.

Let me tell you about something that happened every day of the conference and it was pretty scary.

You know the term ‘Open-mic,’ right? We could volunteer to stand-up in front of more than 300 people and tell our story.

 

It was raw.

The wounds became fresh again, but this time in a room without judgment.

Everybody was just Honest-to-God.

Our only currency was the truth… and trust.

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Junior, Esme and 2 aunts

I could tell you about Esme and Junior(90% burned) who lost their 12-year-old big brother in a house fire. 

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Sam “no-hands bandit”

Or, I could tell you about Sam, the “no-hands bandit,”  who was electrocuted by so much voltage that it fried both his hands off. 

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Joe, Carrie and I

I could tell you about Joe.

He was in the middle of a nightclub fire that killed his girlfriend and 99 other people who were just dancing to the music and the next thing they knew they were on fire. 

Wait!

You know what I’m going to do?

I’m going to introduce you to these heroes in my next few blogs. One-at-a-time.

You must meet these Undercover Agents of Love.

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me, Jason, Sam, Sarah and Billy(worm)

Come open-hearted and ready to trust.

I guess it always comes down to a matter of trust, doesn’t it?

dawn

BTW-(If this is something that you would like to support, please visit us at www.ryanshines.com or follow us on FB and IG @dawnraymondhirn)

Encouragement · Family · Hope

What happens on Elm street, stays on Elm street

The kids at school call me “Freddy Krueger.”

And they ask me about my “Nightmare on Elm Street.”

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As I talked with Louie I remembered some of the awful Freddy Krueger theme song.

“One, two, Freddy’s coming for you

Three, four, better lock the door

Five, six, grab your crucifix

Seven, eight, gonna stay up late

Nine, ten, never sleep again.”

“Everybody’s got scars,” Louie said with tears. “I still got a heart!”

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Louie

He told me how great it was being with Terry.

“Watching him use humor the way he does really helped me out!

Now I’m always crackin’ jokes with the kids around me, and they are so shocked and can’t believe I can do this!” 

“Sometimes I tell them ‘I got attacked by a shark with laser beams.’

I make ’em laugh! I say, ‘Hey guys! I’m medium-rare and you’re raw!”

 

Louie is my friend and he’s in my Hero Hall-of-Fame. 

I see courage every time I see him. 

Dawn

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Adventure with Engagement AWE · Family travel · Hope · Motherhood

A wonderful gift waiting for us in China!

Molly could be weighed against feathers.

She is so little for all the machines surrounding in the burn hospital, giving and taking.

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Shanghai General Hospital , China

She had suffered through God knows how many surgeries, not to mention the endless skin-graphs.

Did I tell you we met her in China at the burn hospital in Bejing?

So many children, so little time!

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Molly

You know the feeling of wanting to take them home with us in.

We brought a big white stuffed dog for Molly.

 

When our Tyler bent down eye-to-eye with Molly he gave her his high-beam smile (a wonderful gift in itself); then, he took the big dog out of it’s red package and handed it to her.

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Tyler

We were all happy-surprised when she reached out on her own to take it from Tyler.

She turned to her mother and hugged her with her dog between them.

Every door in my heart blew open.

I was full of love for Molly, but I had some questions. 

When she leaves here will she be stroller’d out into the great outdoors?

As she grows, will she pedal down neighborhood streets on her two-wheeler? 

Will the other children accept her?

Will she swing around the pole of parking meters?

When she sleeps will she reach out for stars?

I look at her mother and remembered every emotion rocking her heart.

All I want to do is to sweep Molly up and rock her for a solid month-and-a-half.

dawn

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