Story from the Shriners Hospital:
Former Paralympic Athlete is Role Model for Young Patients
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Ryan Fann, 28, of Nashville, Tenn., is a former prosthetic patient at Shriners Hospitals for Children® — Lexington, who, despite apparent obstacles, has accomplished a great deal. He was an all-star football player in high school, won gold medals at the Paralympics and has raised more than $30,000 for Shriners Hospitals for Children through his charity golf tournaments.
At age 3, Fann was struck by a car while playing in front of his family’s home. He was taken to a local hospital, where his family was told the damage to his left foot was so severe it needed to be amputated. After the amputation, Fann received a prosthetic leg from a private medical company in Nashville. He began playing football when he was 5 years old; the game came naturally to Fann, and he immediately fell in love with the sport.
As Fann got older, his prosthetic legs could not withstand the strain of football and kept breaking. Eventually, the problem began to affect his performance and lessen his enjoyment of the game. When Fann was 13, his father recommended they visit Shriners Hospitals for Children — Lexington.
After meeting with Wayne Cottle, the prothetist at the hospital, Fann was fitted for and given three prosthetic legs – one for walking and two for sports.
“I couldn’t believe right away they gave me three legs to use,” said Fann. The great thing about Shriners Hospitals is that they have absolutely zero limitations for their patients.”
With his new and more durable prosthetic legs, Fann continued to improve at football. In high school, he became MVP of the football team. In 2002, Fann was one of 80 football players in the state selected for the Tennessee East-West Shrine Bowl Game.
Fann was featured on ESPN’s broadcast of the game and caught the attention of Bryan Hoddle, coach of the U.S. Paralympic team. Hoddle contacted Fann and convinced him to train for the Paralympics.
In the 2004 Paralympics in Greece, Fann won a gold medal and broke a world record in the 4X400 meter relay. He won several other gold and bronze medals before retiring in 2008.
Fann is currently a prosthetist in Nashville and has become an example to others with amputations including 12-year-old, Andrew Kittrell from Smyrna, Tenn., a patient at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Lexington.
Kittrell was born with amniotic band syndrome, which ultimately caused him to need prosthetics. Like Fann, Kittrell loves to play football. The two met this past September.
“It was almost destined for the two of them to meet because they share so many similarities,” said Michael Kittrell, Andrew’s father. “Ryan has not only become a role model for Andrew, but also a great friend.”
Fann discussed the possibility of competing in track with Kittrell; the two have begun training together. Last December, they ran in a 5K race; Kittrell finished in 27 minutes.
“As a kid, I didn’t know all of the options that were available to me,” said Fann. “Andrew is a terrific kid and I want to help him reach his full potential in life.”
As for Andrew, he seems to have a found a lifelong friend.
“Ryan is like a brother to me,” said Andrew. “He’s helped me so much and I’m thankful that I met him.”
About Shriners Hospitals for
Shriners Hospitals for Children is changing lives every day through innovative pediatric specialty care, world-class research and outstanding medical education. The 22 hospitals in the United States, Canada and Mexico provide advanced care for children with orthopaedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate. For more information visit www.shrinershospitalsforchildren.org.
Shriners Hospitals for Children is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and relies on the generosity of donors. All donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent permitted by law.
For more information about the orthopaedic services at our Lexington hospital visit www.shrinershospitalsforchildren.org/lexington.