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16 June, 2024
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''America at our best''

Healing hearts and changing lives as Shriners Children's Hospital's is honored for their 42 year legacy in Cyprus

Shemaine Bushnell Kyriakides

Last night's gathering at the Hilton Hotel in Nicosia, hosted by the US Embassy and the American Medical Center, stirred something deep within me. It wasn't just an event; it was a heartfelt journey back to the core values that define us as Americans – the spirit of giving, helping, and making a real difference.

The evening paid tribute to the dedicated Shriners doctors, who, for 42 years, have partnered with the Paraskevaides Foundation, changing the lives of over 4,000 children in Cyprus. Their unwavering commitment transcends financial barriers, ensuring that every child receives the care they desperately need regardless of their family's resources.

George and Thelma Paraskevaides, founders of the Paraskevaides Foundation, embodied these values, expressing both love for humanity and admiration for the United States. My understanding of Shriners was limited before, but now I see them as more than just doctors—they are agents of change, performing surgeries, burn treatments, and crafting personalized prosthetics.

"In a world plagued by conflict and confrontation, the work of organizations like Shriners reminds us of the transformative power of our values." - Julie Fisher, US Ambassador to Cyprus

In a conversation that left a lasting impact, I spoke with Mr. Brock McConkey, Director of Prosthetics for Shriners. Brock shared a heartwarming story that is set to unfold - in the coming months, he'll return to Cyprus to fit a prosthetic for a two-year-old boy who tragically lost his right foot. Stay tuned for more on this story.

In the same conversation, Denos Vasileiou from Limassol, a local craftsman of prosthetics, shared his remarkable journey. Twenty years ago, as a young boy, he needed a knee brace and became a patient of Brock. Today, Denos is not just creating prosthetics for others; he's part of the Shriners Foundation, paying forward the kindness he once received. His story embodies the perpetual cycle of support that Shriners fosters.

Previously, families faced challenges traveling to the US for complex treatments. However, this past October marked a turning point, as Shriners doctors collaborated with local hospitals, even performing spinal surgery in Cyprus just yesterday. This collaborative effort goes beyond medical expertise; it demonstrates the power of doing good to bring people from different nations closer.

Dr. Laura Kozloski, Executive Director for International Strategy for Shriners Children’s Hospital, revealed how Cyprus has become a hub for treating children from conflict zones like Egypt, Israel, and Gaza. The poignant tale of two Gaza children initially approved for treatment in Cyprus but tragically killed, underscores the urgency of Shriners' services in areas torn by conflict.

With over 100 years of global service, in over 170 countries and 42 years in Cyprus, Shriners can now conduct surgeries locally, providing, in John McCabe's words, "high quality, high safety treatments with a lot of love."

In her closing remarks, US Ambassador Julie Fisher aptly captured the essence of the evening: "In a world plagued by conflict and confrontation, the work of organizations like Shriners reminds us of the transformative power of our values. Our leading capabilities in the healthcare field, combined with a uniquely American commitment to philanthropy, make for a potent display of America at our best."

Cyprus  |  USA  |  Shriners  |  charity

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