Winter Garden teen named Shriners national ambassador
Riley Desin will travel nation representing Shriners Hospitals for Children
WINTER GARDEN, Fla. – Riley Desin, Shriners Hospitals for Children's national patient ambassador, is this week's Getting Results Award winner.
Desin, 17, was diagnosed as a young child with a genetic condition called hereditary exostoses, which causes irregular bone growth. Exostoses are more commonly known as "bone spurs," which typically grow on the end of long bones during childhood and adolescence.
In Desin's case, which is considered severe, doctors discovered growths from nearly head to toe after a full body X-ray when he was 14 months old. That was the start of a lifelong relationship between the hospital system and his family.
"I've been going there since I was a little kid," Desin said. "Shriners isn't just a hospital for me, it's like family."
Desin and his family travel to Tampa regularly for care. Looking at him today, you would never know he's had about a dozen surgeries.
He is one of two national ambassadors who will represent the hospital system at events such as football games and golf tournaments. He will also spend the next year visiting all 22 hospitals in the system.
"I just hope to bring awareness," he said. "Giving children what they need regardless of their families ability to pay is just amazing. I know how much my surgeries have cost and our family couldn't have afforded it, a lot of families can't. So that's just amazing and I hope to spread that awareness on a national stage."
"It's a big deal. It's a great honor and it's something he's worked hard for," said Jessica Hill, Shriners public relations specialist. "He decided that this was something he really wanted to do, he set his mind to it and we're so proud of him."
Desin will spend the next year juggling between his senior year classes and national travel. He said he hopes to one day find a career with Shriners. He's interested in public relations or possibly a medical specialty.
"I think of it as my way of giving back," Desin said. "It's the least I can do."
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