Saskatoon, Saskatchewan – August 21st marked the culmination of 4 months of fundraising and almost a year of planning by the Nutana Lawn Bowling Club as the Smile Train Lawnspiel kicked off in Smile Train Executive Director Priscilla Ma‘s hometown.
Lawn bowling, or bowls, dates back to the 13th century and has filled the lives of its players with joy for so long that it’s only natural that it would be used to create smiles for desperate children that suffer from unrepaired clefts. Led by Freda Toffolo, Jack Wigham, Janelle Phillips, Karen Cranston, and Krista Ford, the Nutana LBC’s summer finale was a riveting success. In front of family, friends, and spectators, 14 teams of 3 competed throughout the day for Smile Train. Entry fees for the event, an auction sponsored by local businesses, and a generous matching donation capped off the summer’s fundraising for a total of over $13,000!
A retired Speech-Language Pathologist, Freda Toffolo knows firsthand the life changing effects of cleft surgery and follow up care. When she saw an advertisement for Smile Train last year, she knew that she had to do everything in her power to help children in developing countries whose families are too poor to afford cleft surgery. It didn’t take much convincing to get her fellow lawn bowlers to agree.
We launched the fundraiser in May because that is Speech and Hearing Month. My colleagues identified a mother with a daughter who had a repaired cleft lip and palate and the three of us were interviewed for an article. This was the catalyst for getting donations. After it appeared in the paper we received donations almost on a daily basis.”
– Freda Toffolo, Nutana LBC President
To help decrease the costs of the event, food was graciously prepared by the Hindu Society of Saskatchewan, the Saskatoon Chinese Ladies Association and Charlie`s Seafood Market. Through the Chinese Ladies Association, Priscilla’s mother, Theresa Ma even got in on the action, providing over 200 handmade Chinese savory pastries. Beautiful skies, bright smiles, homemade food, and a fierce but friendly competition all came together to give desperate children free cleft lip and palate surgery and a second chance at a life.
Thanks to everyone who competed, sponsored, volunteered for and participated in this event for helping to make so many children smile.