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Local boy is poster child for annual Shrine Game

Travis and Jolene Hemp and their children, Haley, 10, and Logan, 2½, gather in their rural Laporte home with their golden retriever, Molly. Logan, who was born without part of his right arm, is the poster child for the Shrine Weekend Friday and Saturday, Oct. 10 and 11. Pioneer Photo/Molly Miron1 / 2
Haley Hemp, 10, shows her brother Logan's prostheses from the tiny arm he was fitted for when he was 4 months old to the arm he now wears. Pioneer Photo/Molly Miron2 / 2

Logan Hemp is a 2½-year-old whirlwind who bounces from toy to pedal car to racing around his house in rural Laporte.

He also is the poster child for the 2010 Shrine Game Saturday, Bemidji State University versus Augustana College of Sioux Falls, S.D.

Logan was born without part of his right arm. He has been treated by the Shriner's Hospital for Children in Minneapolis at no charge to his family since he was two months old.

"They'll even give you transportation down there," Jolene Hemp said.

Jolene, who works for Naylor Electric, had cervical cancer while she was pregnant with Logan, so her prenatal checkups included ultrasound examinations every three weeks. For the first two ultrasounds, Logan had two arms, but at 26 weeks, the technicians couldn't find his right arm on the images.

"They didn't tell us what was wrong," said Jolene.

She added that they were also urged to abort the pregnancy, but they were determined to carry the baby to term. Jolene is now cancer-free.

She and her husband, Travis, a Leech Lake Tribal Police officer, were sent to the University of Minnesota Hospital for further exams and a three-dimensional ultrasound.

No one knows exactly what happened to Logan's arm, but it had disappeared below the elbow.

Jolene said the diagnosis was a shock, and it took a couple of weeks for the realization to sink in. At that point, 28 weeks into the pregnancy, Jolene and Travis applied to the Shriner's Hospital for help. Jolene said she came to the part of the application where she had to name the sponsoring temple. She didn't know the answer, so she contacted Joe Dunn, member of Aad Temple, Bemidji, for information on sponsorship. The Shriner's Hospital accepted the Hemps' application four weeks later.

Logan had his first appointment at the Shriner's Hospital when he was two months old, and was fitted with his first tiny prosthesis when he was four months.

"Our biggest savior is he has a functioning elbow, all the nerves - that's huge," Jolene said. "There's nothing he cannot do. Nothing slows him down."

Logan has since outgrown several prostheses, and his current arm is more of a toy than a tool. For example, Jolene said when they gave him a hammer and a nail, instead of holding the nail with his prosthesis, he took off his shoe and held the nail with his toes.

But when he is 3, he will be ready for a full-body harness apparatus with a functioning hand. And when he is about 6, he can be fitted with a myoelectric prosthesis that will provide much more function.

Jolene said she was afraid Logan would have to wear a hook, but they were encouraged when technicians at the Shriner's Hospital pulled out a catalog to show the customized prosthetic variations that are available. For example, Logan could wear one for hunting and a different one to play hockey.

"When he is old enough to prove to them he wants to do something, they'll make him five or six," Travis said.

"That was when we knew we were in the right place," Jolene said.

Logan's sister, 10-year-old Haley, said she thought Logan was "just, like, cute," when Jolene and Travis brought him home. She said she wasn't scared by his lack of an arm, but is determined to stand between her brother and anybody who might tease him when he goes to school.

When they took Logan to school to show him to her classmates, she said no one was unkind or upset.

"They just asked what happened," Haley said. "I don't blame them. I was curious when I saw him, too."

The 13th annual Shrine Weekend will begin with a clinic from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday at Lake Region Bone and Joint, located at 3807 Greenleaf Ave. N.W., just off Anne Street Northwest. The parade will step out at 11 a.m. Saturday north on Beltrami Avenue Northwest from the Kraus-Anderson parking lot near Union Square.

The Shrine Game will kick off at 1 p.m. Saturday in Chet Anderson Stadium. The El Riad Shrine Steel Drums Band from Sioux Falls will provide halftime entertainment.

And Logan, Haley, Travis and Jolene Hemp will be there to cheer on the Beavers and show an example of the benefits Shriners provide.