St. Louis, Mo — Last August, teams from around St. Louis gathered at McNair Park, 20 miles outside of St. Louis, for blue skies, fun times, friendly competition, and to play their hearts out to give children in another part of the world new smiles.
Since 2008, Valari Quarando has organized the Annual Smile Train Charity Softball Tournament, and every year the event gains in popularity. A dedicated Smile Train supporter, Valari is no stranger to clefts: she was born with a cleft lip in 1979, “I was lucky enough to be born in a country where this birth defect can be fixed quite easily, so I wanted to help the children who aren’t as lucky.”
The last three tournaments raised more than $3,000 and the hopes were high to do even better this year. With an amazing turn out and the generosity of participants, volunteers, and local businesses, over $1,700 was raised that will go directly to Smile Train to provide free surgery and follow up care to desperate children.
My brother John Quarando and brother-in-law Brett Willbrand have organized a team to play in the tournament every year since it began. This year their team, Cobra Kai, won the tournament for the first time! I have never seen a team more excited to win. Not only do we get to raise money for new smiles for the little kids of Smile Train, but we get to put smiles on all of the players’ faces as well. I can’t wait till next year!
Thanks to Valari, the players, volunteers, sponsors, and everyone involved in the tournament for giving the kids in our programs something to smile about! Be sure to check out some of the photos from the event.