Ollie’s Story

Ollie smiling, holding an ice cream cone to celebrate Just because Day

Story Summary

What’s your reason to celebrate? These days more and more families are opting to forgo birthday gifts in favor of donations to charitable causes they hold near and dear. Some cite a lack of space for toys while others may look for a unique opportunity to inspire philanthropic involvement for their children, family, and friends. For one patient’s family, putting gratitude into action was the best way they could envision to celebrate their son, Oliver, known as Ollie, on his birthday.

Ollie was born with radial longitudinal deficiency and thumb hypoplasia. Just three days after birth, Dan Zlotolow, MD of Shriners Children’s™ Philadelphia gave a consultation in the Temple University Hospital NICU, reviewing Ollie’s diagnosis and offering hope through a procedure called pollicization. Four months later at our Philadelphia hospital, Dr. Zlotolow surgically relocated Ollie’s index finger to the thumb position. After a month in a cast and daily therapy sessions, his function was nearly 100%.

In celebration of Ollie’s second birthday his parents, Jamie and Ben, created a peer-to-peer fundraising page on lovetotherescue.org to tell his story and raise awareness. They shared the page across social media and raised over $1,000 for Shriners Children’s! This year for his third birthday, they increased their goal, added additional photos detailing Ollie’s condition, and expanded their reach by sending emails, posting flyers with a QR code, and asking friends to share the link on their personal social media pages. The response was tremendous. Donations poured in from across their community, quickly surpassing their original goal of $1,000 and raising nearly $3,500!

“Shriners Children’s is so important. Everything they’ve given us… all the joy in our life was possible [thanks to them] so we felt it was the least we could do,” Jamie, shares. Many of the donations made to Ollie’s page came from complete strangers who not only gave generously but also offered messages of camaraderie, love, and support. The fundraising page had transformed into a resource and beacon of hope for others facing Ollie’s same diagnosis. “We want other people to see his transformation and know they’re not alone,” Jamie says. “If you take this route, you can have these outcomes, too, and your child can do anything. Nothing can stop them.”

Today, Ollie is an energetic, on the go three year-old with sparkling eyes and a curious mind. He loves to swim with his mom and dad, watch Disney movies, and play outside. And he loves going to visit “Dr. Z” at Shriners Children’s. “We love going there!” Jamie exclaims. “Every time, we get excited to go in and see Dr. Z. There’s no fear in going to the doctor.”

Ollie points to the Bubble Guppies, a popular children’s cartoon. “Mom, they have a hand like me!” The fish-tailed mermaid children all have four fingers, just like Ollie. “Where’s my finger?” he asks.

“They’re all there! That’s all you need. That’s how many you’re supposed to have.” Jamie says.

Four fingers are enough.

They can grasp an ice cream cone, peel stickers, and strum a guitar. They can pick a flower, press paint to paper in a charming handprint, or gently close to hold his mother’s hand. These four little fingers can do so much. They’re not just enough; they’re perfect, just like Ollie.

And that’s something to celebrate.

Shriners Children’s invites you to join Ollie and his family in supporting The Most Amazing Care Anywhere. Visit lovetotherescue.org to learn more about starting a peer-to-peer fundraiser, donating your birthday like Ollie, or hosting a Proud Supporter event.

For more about Shriners Children’s™ Philadelphia, please contact Terry Diamond, Director of Development, at tdiamond@shrinenet.org.

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