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news News Thursday, January 2, 2020 Thursday, January 2, 2020 11:46 AM - Thursday, January 2, 2020 11:46 AM

Former Shriners Hospital patient, now Shriner, visits Galveston

Shares his desire to give back

Former Shriners Hospital patient, now Shriner, visits Galveston

Troy Simonton was just 14 months old when he first visited Shriners Hospitals for Children — Galveston. On May 21, 1972, he accidentally tipped over a gasoline can, near a hot water heater, in the utility room of his apartment home in Hoopeston, Illinois. His father, who had been mowing the lawn late that evening, set the can down inside the utility room. When he heard the explosion, he rushed in to save his son, but everything in the family’s apartment was swiftly gone. Thankfully, Troy’s mother and his siblings were outside at the time of the fire.

Troy’s burns, although serious, only covered about 25% of his body. He was taken to a hospital in Peoria, where a group of local Shriners stepped in to help him and his family who had just lost everything they owned.

Shriners Hospitals for Children — Cincinnati, the closest Shriners Hospital specializing in burn treatment, was full at the time. Troy was quickly accepted at Shriners Hospitals for Children's 30-bed facility in Galveston; the first of four Shriners Hospitals burn units, which opened in 1966 through a partnership with University of Texas Medical Branch – a partnership that still exists today.

Troy visited the Galveston Shriners Hospital five times for his initial care, skin grafts and several surgeries, often for months at a time without his parents, who had to stay home to work and care for their other three children. Later, Troy was transferred closer to home for his reconstructive care at the Cincinnati Shriners Hospital, where he returned periodically until the age of 18.

Troy's time as a Shriners Hospital patient was not yet done though. At the age of 18, he was in an automobile accident and badly injured his left wrist – the wrist of the same hand that had been badly burned as a baby. Thinking he was too old for care at Shriners Hospitals for Children, Troy sought the help of an orthopaedic surgeon to repair a mass of broken bones in his wrist.

According to Troy, they took one look at it and referred him right back to Shriners Hospitals for Children. This time however, it was for orthopaedic care at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Chicago. It took one day and one surgery to get him back on track with the specialized care provided at the Chicago Shriners Hospital.

Troy has since led a very full life. He is happily married to his wife Melissa and has a 25-year-old son who is now following in his shoes; building cars at a Subaru plant in Indiana. To mark the anniversary of his accident, Troy became a Shriner this past May. He has visited all three hospitals he received care from since his accidents; making his last trip to Galveston on December 23, 2019.

Currently, Troy drives Shriners patients, when he can, to receive care at the Chicago Shriners Hospital. He hopes that after he retires he will be able to drive patients full time for Shriners Hospitals for Children — Lexington. Troy and his wife Melissa are clearly all about paying it forward, donating a check for $1,000 to the Galveston Shriners Hospital during a recent visit. The SImonton's love the mission of Shriners Hospitals for Children and want to do their part in supporting and taking care of Shriners Hospitals kids for many years to come!