MONTE VISTA— Following eight months of treatment at the Shriners Hospital for Children in Philadelphia, Urianna “Uri” Acosta was welcomed home by Al Kaly Shrine members at a noon luncheon provided by Mountain View Restaurant on Tuesday, May 29.
Acosta, a Monte Vista native who recently turned 13, was born with a condition called Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenta (AMC), a stiffening of the bones which affects about one in 3,000 individuals. Acosta previously explained her condition, “I have Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita… A condition that causes many joints to be stiff and crooked at birth. I lack the normal range of motion in several joints. Which joints are affected by AMC? Joints affected by AMC include my hands, feet, hips, knees, elbows, shoulders, wrists, fingers, toes. Any and all joints can be affected but it is possible for some joints to be unaffected. No two people are affected exactly the same way.” Shrine and evening,,
According to her grandmother, Linda Archuleta, Acosta has now made two trips to the Shriners Hospital for Children in Philadelphia and returned only about two weeks ago from her most recent stay. Acosta received three surgeries; they were intense and required considerable recovery time and physical therapy afterward. Archuleta explained she got fixators in her legs, which braced them but required multiple internal screws, as well as bone scraping in her foot to shape it to better enable her to walk. The trip did include some sightseeing, as Acosta and Archuleta saw many patriotic attractions like the Liberty Bell and the U.S. Constitution and at Acosta’s request they celebrated her 13th birthday at the Rainforest Café in Atlantic City.
Acosta can now take steps with the assistance of a specialized walker, and the scooter Acosta has been seen cruising throughout Monte Vista in has been adapted to keep her legs lengthened in front of her. Archuleta relayed Acosta has no more surgeries on the horizon but will need continued physical therapy and braces refitted in the coming years.
Acosta is not one to be dissuaded by any obstacle. She maintains a reputation for courage and boldness in her ability to speak to crowds about her condition, fearlessly speaking at the 2017 and 2018 Shrine Circuses as well as medical conferences. Acosta completed the eighth grade online this year because of the restrictions of travel, surgeries and recovery and received all As, but she is eager to return to school in person to see her friends and be physically present in the learning process. She will be attending Monte Vista High School this fall. Acosta loves swimming and has plans to become a marine biologist after graduation and has selected a college in Australia to study at. Archuleta stated the only arguable challenge this plan has presented is Acosta’s refusal to eat fish.
The Sand Dunes Shrine Club has assisted Acosta and Archuleta over the last two years by providing transportation costs, raised through their annual circus fundraiser, for their travel to Shriners Hospitals. The Shriners Hospitals, which provide primarily specialized orthopedic and burn care to children at 22 hospitals across North America, do not charge families for their services. The child’s insurance will be charged for their contribution, but charitable donations to the Shriners cover the remainder of the expenses. The organization has helped over one million children in the 96 years since their first hospital opened in 1921.
At Tuesday’s luncheon, Acosta was greeted with a standing ovation and swarms of congratulations. Each table had a representative present Acosta with a balloon and a message of congratulations for her progress and thanks for the inspiration she has provided to the club members. Nobel Dennis Shepherd also presented her with a figurine of “the Silent Messenger,” which has long been representative of the mission of the Shriners. The messenger is based on a famous 1970 photo by Randy Dieter of Shriner Al Hortman carrying a girl named Bobbi Jo Wright in Evansville Ind. Shepherd and Nobel Ernie Kuney explained the messenger “…is indicative of the work we do… We don’t ask for recognition; our purpose is just to help kids get back on their feet.”
Following Uri’s singing and explanation at the circus, many different acts took to the stage, including Adam Burke and his Bengal Tigers; the Dominguez Brothers performing stunts on the tightrope including bike riding; blindfolded walking and a tripod; Morgan’s Barnyard Superstars which included cats, dogs, an alpaca and a pony; the Amazing Spiderman; mermaid and Rio de Janeiro themed acrobatic performances; Belko the magic clown; the DC Riders performing stunts on their dirt bikes; the full-throttle flyers and George Haverton III and his Asian Elephants. The intermission featured elephant and camel rides, face painting and pictures with some of the performers.
The Sand Dunes Shrine Club has plans to help two more San Luis Valley children with transportation to hospitals this year, but for medical privacy reasons were unable to provide any more information about them. For inquiries about membership call 873-3004 or for medical inquiries call 817-995-1398 or 719-580-6200.