5th Annual Smile Train Tri Raises $36,000

Wake Forest, NCSpecial Guest Blog written by Smile Train Donor Engagement Associate Anna Lawrence. Be sure to check out the Smile Train Tri local news coverage.

Special thanks to everyone at the 5th Annual Smile Train Triathlon to raise funds for free cleft surgery!

This past weekend, I had the extreme pleasure of attending the 5th Annual Smile Train Triathlon. Ever since she received one of our pieces of mail five years ago, Rebecca Warriner has worked tirelessly to fundraise for Smile Train. This year, the 5th Annual Smile Train Triathlon brought over 450 triathletes together to race for our cause and raised more than $36,000!

“What Rebecca has been able to accomplish over the past five years is truly inspiring.”

Sign up for the Smile Train Triathlon to support free cleft surgery for desperate kids

What Rebecca has been able to accomplish over the past five years is truly inspiring. Not only has her annual triathlon now raised over $150,000 for Smile Train programs, but she has found a way to engage her entire community to provide desperate kids free cleft surgery. It was a truly moving experience to witness so many people coming together, not only to support each other in a grueling race, but to all be so enthusiastic and dedicated to helping bring smiles to children they will never meet and hope to families worlds away from their own homes.

Every year, Rebecca has a family who has been affected by a cleft come to represent how having a child with a cleft has affected their lives and how important it is for them to have access to the medical care so many children around the world are unable to receive. This year, Jaime Cleary, along with her family, drove all the way down to North Carolina from Ohio to be that representative. Jaime’s son, Aydan, was born with a cleft and was fortunate enough to receive the surgeries he needed to live a normal and healthy life. Jaime, who is an all-girls high school rugby coach, even organized a fundraiser of her own by hosting a charity rugby game where all the girls played rugby in prom dresses. Jaime participated in the race and placed in her age group!

Rebecca, who is now 5 months pregnant, even participated in the swim part of the triathlon in between managing the booths, coordinating her volunteers, and keeping the event running as smoothly as possible.

From everyone at Smile Train, we want to send a huge thank you to all the participants in this year’s Triathlon, the Cleary family who drove the long way down to be a part of this event and most importantly, to Rebecca and her family, Richard, Polly, John, Pat and Craig for their extreme generosity, dedication and unrelenting efforts to bring so many smiles to children around the world.

82 Years Young and Happier Than Ever

Tarma, Peru We recently received this update from our partners at CIRPLAST, Dr. Carlos Navarro and his wife Elvira, about Emilia Solorzano de Estrella who underwent free cleft lip surgery at the age of 82.

82-year-old Smile Train Patient Emilia with Dr. Navarro and team before and after free cleft lip surgery

“Emilia Solorzano de Estrella is a very pleasant 82 year-old lady, who was born with a cleft lip in Acobamba, Peru; in an anex town called Buenos Aires, near Huancayo. She never attended school.

“She lived with her parents until she was 30, and then she married at age 35 in a small town near the jungle, called La Merced, in the Chanchamayo district. She had only one son. She lived all of her adult life in the jungle until 1996, when she returned to her birth town near Huancayo. She is very active and still takes care of her 90 year old blind husband and her home: carrying wood for the stove daily.

“Many times she has wanted to fix her cleft lip, but never trusted doctors, because she was afraid she could die during surgery, and also because she was very poor and could not afford the expense. Plus doing the surgery in the jungle was almost impossible.

“Her married son has 4 children and lives with his family next door. Eventually, they heard of the Smile Train – Cirplast mission on the radio, and her son brought her to us in Tarma.

She was eager to have the surgery to fix her lip, and insisted that she only wanted “the lip put together” as she demonstrated by pinching her two lip segments together. She also wanted to have the surgery as soon as possible. We had all the tests done, and did her surgery at the beginning of our 120th mission (the fourth one in Tarma). The surgery was successful and she is now ‘the happiest and prettiest woman in the world’ and sends her blessings to the CIRPLAST team and to her ‘angel,’ Dr. Navarro.”

— Elvira Navarro