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news item Friday, June 30, 2017 Monday, June 10, 2019 8:56 AM - Monday, June 10, 2019 8:56 AM

Jalen's story

Young golfer reaches beyond limits and returns to the game after successful scoliosis surgery

Jalen puttingFor Jalen, who turned 15 in 2017, dreams really do come true. She previously met her idol, Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) star Stacy Lewis, on a golf course in Houston, Texas. The two have a lot in common on and off the golf course, as they both have scoliosis.

The two golfers got a chance to compare stories, practice their shots and have lunch together, during the filming of a Professional Golf Association (PGA) television special featuring Jalen’s return to the game after scoliosis treatment at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Philadelphia.

Jalen’s golf career was in jeopardy when she was diagnosed with a 42-degree curve in her spine, which progressed to a 58-degree curve by the time of her surgery. It was doubtful that traditional treatments could give her spine the flexibility to golf at the high level she was used to. Jalen’s family went to work researching alternatives that could offer their daughter more hope and fewer limitations. Their research pointed them to Shriners Hospitals for Children.

Jalen received scoliosis treatment by Amer Samdani, M.D., and the team at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Philadelphia on April 8, 2015. She was back to playing golf in just six weeks. A few weeks later, she began competing again on the PGA Junior League team. Jalen is currently ranked 23 in the state of South Carolina. Many are calling her recovery truly remarkable.

“It brings me so much joy to go out and watch her do what she loves,” Elizabeth, Jalen’s mother said of Jalen post-surgery. “And now, thanks to Shriners Hospitals for Children, she has a future with no limitations." She says that words cannot express how grateful they are to Shriners Hospitals for the care they provided Jalen.

Jalen won the Caddie Classic on March 19, 2016, at Windermere Country Club in South Carolina and caddied for several celebrities at the Monday after the Masters Celebrity-Pro Am tournament a few weeks later. The South Carolina High School League also selected her to the All-State team as a 7th grader.

Jalen continues to stay involved with Shriners Hospitals for Children. She was the 2016 patient ambassador for Jamil Shriners, in Columbia, South Carolina, near her hometown. She participated in their annual golf tournament fundraiser, where she played alongside three of the past Potentates (presidents) of Jamil Shriners. She gave an emotional speech at the event thanking the members of Shriners International for their tireless efforts to help provide the specialty care that has changed her life and the lives of so many others like her. She is a true example of how Shriners Hospitals for Children sends Love to the rescue every day.

Jalen hopes to attend a Division I college on a golf scholarship and to someday be on the LPGA tour. She would also like to pursue a career in the medical field to learn how to make scoliosis braces and prosthetics for those in need.

Jalen Castle and Stacy Lewis