Gracin: From Braces and Crutches to Cleats and Championships

PHOTOS: (left) Gracin in October 2017: her first Wings of Hope flight. (right) Gracin in July 2021 after pitching six innings and leading her softball team to the league championship.

Thirteen-year-old Gracin was born with one leg shorter than the other. Wings of Hope flew her more than three dozen times from her home in Kansas to Shriners Hospitals for Children-St. Louis for bone-lengthening surgeries and therapy. Thanks to the excellent pediatric orthopedic doctors at Shriners — and Wings of Hope flights to and from appointments — Gracin was able to ditch her braces and crutches for her softball cleats. On July 7, she pitched six innings and led her recreational team to the league championship. Gracin is now in the eighth grade and playing volleyball. This scholar athlete is a straight A student with big plans for her future: Gracin wants to be an orthotist and prosthetist when she grows up. As someone who wore leg braces for the better part of three years, Gracin has a special empathy for children who find themselves in a similar situation. As her mom Traci says, “She wants to make braces for legs and arms more comfortable for kids.”

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