Smile Train Participates in the First Ever Global Surgery Congressional Briefing

Briefing

In her own words Erin Stieber, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at Smile Train, details her experience participating in a recent Congressional Briefing.

On Wednesday, February 4, I was honored to represent Smile Train on Capitol Hill for the first ever Congressional Briefing on Global Surgery. The event was sponsored by the Congressional Global Health Caucus, US Represenattives Dave Reichert and Betty McCollum, ReSurge International and the G4 Alliance.

An estimated 170,000 babies are born each year in the developing world with cleft lip and palate, a surgically repairable facial deformity. Without surgery, these children will often be denied the chance to go to school, get married or contribute to their communities, and may even be abandoned or die. An estimated 2 billion people lack access to basic surgical care, and many children with clefts are among them. The briefing gave Smile Train the opportunity to speak about this important issue alongside other speakers from ReSurge International, Stanford University, JHPIEGO, and the American College of Surgeons, among others.

I presented on Smile Train’s sustainable model as one example of a successful “solution” to the challenge of reaching neglected surgical patients around the world. Through our partnership with local medical professionals in their own communities and investment in empowerment, technology, and training initatives, Smile Train has reached more than one million patients with life changing surgery in just 15 years, and has made great strides in addressing the lack of access to essential surgical care for cleft lip and palate.

10th Annual Hot Lips Hustle 5K

First runner to finish hot lips hustle 5K.

Marietta, GA—Hundreds of runners and walkers raised over $6,000 for Smile Train at the 10th Annual Hot Lips Hustle 5K on Saturday, September 20. The Hustle was founded in 2004 by Ryan Ernstes, a 12-year-old girl who was born with a cleft. Now 22, Ryan is still committed to helping other children who were born with the same birth defect.

Besides raising enough money to fund 24 new smiles, the event was a fun family affair, with even dogs participating. Many people came dressed in silly costumes and wigs and there was a live DJ, lip tattoos, an ice cream bar, and great food. There were trophies for the top finishers (even for the top dog racers), and all entrants were entered into free prize drawings, but Ryan believes that the greatest prize of all was being able to give a child a new smile and a new start at life. Over the past 10 years the Hot Lips Hustle 5K has contributed to 366 surgeries for children all over the world, changing their lives forever.

Runners during the race.

Runners during the race.

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.