Ewa Rumprecht Power Of A Smile

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Ewa Rumprecht, Manager, Technology Projects (pictured above with medical partners in Myanmar) talks about what the Power Of A Smile means to her.

What first inspired you to work at Smile Train?
I was impressed by Smile Train’s focus on a single solvable problem. It was also important for me that Smile Train was building, supporting and strengthening our partner’s medical capacity rather than providing international aid as outsiders, without local knowledge.

How has your involvement with Smile Train made you look at the Power Of A Smile differently?
I see the Power Of A Smile as an immense number of children in need that are being helped by the generosity of the donors, dedication of the local doctors, medical staff, social workers and Smile Train’s efforts. The image of one million smiling faces cannot leave one unmoved.

What keeps you involved in Smile Train?
The difference that Smile Train makes in peoples’ lives. I am touched and motivated, every time I see an image of a mother leaning over her child after a cleft surgery with renewed hopes. I read accounts of a doctor who adopted a cleft patient he found chained to a tree, families walking for days for their new smiles, children learning to sing after their surgeries. A new smile makes great things happen.

What do you think the Power Of A Smile is?
A smile opens doors, increases confidence, and provides comfort at just the right moment.

Nina Bolhuis Power Of A Smile

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Smile Train supporter and former cleft patient, Nina Bolhuis, talks about what the Power Of A Smile means to her.

What inspired you to support Smile Train?
I think that more people need to be aware that cleft lip and palate is often a very serious health issue—especially for children with clefts who can’t afford a surgery. I recently found Smile Train on Instagram and I was amazed by all of the smiling children Smile Train has reached.

If you could give one piece of advice to a child with cleft what would it be?
Be self-confident. Once I learned to embrace myself all of the shame went away. You may not look like everyone else but you’re beautiful and strong. Embrace your imperfections, they will always be there, and that makes you, you.

What did being born with a cleft teach you about life?
It taught me to stand up for myself. When I was younger, I ignored bullying by pretending that it didn’t bother me but now I’ve learned to confront bullying by openly talking about my cleft. Once people know your story, they will be less likely to try to hurt you.

Nina 300.jpgWhat makes you smile?
I always say, “Don’t search for happiness, find it.” I think that some people overthink happiness and often miss all of the happy things all around. A child helped by Smile Train makes me happy. My family and friends make me happy. Music and dancing make me happy.


Samantha Johnston Power Of A Smile

Sam HeaderSamantha Johnston, Manager, Corporate Partnerships talks about what the Power Of A Smile means to her.

What first inspired you to work at Smile Train?
I loved how focused the organization is. I was impressed about Smile Train’s laser-focus of solving a single problem in the most effective way possible. Also, the fact that they leveraged technology to continually improve day-to-day operations was important to me; it allows me to go to work knowing we will accomplish as much as possible every single day.

How has your involvement with Smile Train made you look at the power a smile differently?
It’s easy to forget that a smile is so much more than a physical feature. To the children Smile Train helps, a smile is a second chance at life. It’s the opportunity to go to school, have friends, and get a job. It’s the opportunity to have dreams that they may never have had without Smile Train.

What keeps you involved in Smile Train?
Knowing we bring happiness to children, families and communities around the world every day keeps me going. Smile Train has achieved some great smilestones in such a short time, but there’s still more work to be done. I want to be sure I do everything in my power to help Smile Train reach as many children as possible.

Pamela Sheeran Power Of A Smile

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Pamela Sheeran, Vice President and Regional Director, Latin America talks about what the Power Of A Smile means to her.

What inspired you to work at Smile Train?
Before I started working for Smile Train, I spent a significant amount of time working in the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Haiti. I noticed that in spite of the numerous dedicated international health NGOs and aid agencies working in these countries, there were still many families in need of basic health services.
During that time, I also met many amazing local professionals eager to be a part of their communities’ solutions. With training and resources, they would make sure the need in their respective neighborhoods’, cities’ and countries’ needs would be met.
So when I heard about Smile Train’s unique model of empowering local professionals so they can provide top quality, free cleft care to families in their local communities, I knew I had to get aboard the train.

How has your involvement with Smile Train made you look at the Power Of A Smile differently?
Now I understand that a smile represents the fact that so many people have come together, all in the name of a child in need of a simple, yet life-changing surgery. From the donor in his/her home, to the staffer in the Smile Train NY office, to the local hospital and team in the developing world, and to the rural community where the patient lives, so many people from all corners of the world all seamlessly come together to create a smile for a child in need. When I see a smile, now I see all of the generous people involved with making sure it can happen.

What has the Power Of A Smile done for you in your life?
It has taught me enjoy my smile. It is powerful, so use it wisely and often. A smile is so powerful that I’ve decided to dedicate my life to helping others find theirs.

Monica’s Motivation

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Monica was born with a cleft lip and palate in Snohomish, Washington. As an infant she had to stay in the hospital for months because of her many medical complications. Since then she has had five surgeries pertaining to her cleft, but with strength and determination, Monica made it through it all and is now a healthy student at Glacier Peak High School.

Monica joined her school’s Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) with the idea to start a fundraiser for less fortunate children with clefts and Smile Train. In the fundraiser’s first year Monica was able to raise enough for money one surgery.

This year, now as Vice President of Community Service for FBLA, Monica had the opportunity to give a presentation in her school’s auditorium about Smile Train and her own personal story. In her speech Monica says, “…a smile is a symbol of peace, happiness, and love.”

“Over my lifetime I have changed from a person who stood on the sidelines and watched life move around me…to a person who took control of my own destiny.  I can say that I am a lot better for it. I was blessed with the opportunity when I received my lifesaving surgery and have had family, friends, and mentors who have supported me throughout my entire life. It is an honor to be able to come to this phenomenal school and stand up on this stage in front of you all today. Unfortunately, those blessings aren’t universal. There are children who get turned away from ever going to school and whose families abandon them.”

Watch Monica’s full presentation here.

This year her school raised enough money for more than six children to get new smiles. Monica says, “Over these past two years, it has been an honor to be able to share Smile Train’s mission and to be able to support an amazing organization that not only gives the gift of a smile, but a gift of hope.”

Sara Rezk Power Of A Smile

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Sara Rezk, from Fairfax VA is a mother of two, and her youngest, Seleem, was born with a unilateral cleft lip and palate. Here’s what the Power Of A Smile means to her. 

If you could give one piece of advice to a child with cleft what would it be?

CELEBRATE WHO YOU ARE! You are amazing children who will have to go through some additional hardships in life. The cleft you were born with does not define who you can or cannot be. Find your passion and run with it.

If you could give one piece of advice to another parent whose child was born with cleft what would it be?

With all the madness and emotions that come with a cleft diagnosis, hang in there. One day you will look back and miss your little one’s wide smile so much! This whole journey will not only empower you as parents, it will have a lasting impact on the family as a whole.

What makes you smile?

Seeing my child being so brave. Nothing gets in his way! At just 2, he is already inspiring so many people around him.

What did your child being born with a cleft teach you about life?

That we really shouldn’t just see people at face value. This is a very diverse world and we need to embrace everyone around us, whether a different culture, appearance, life style, beliefs or religion.

What does the “Power of a Smile” mean to you/ why do you think it’s so important?

Power of a Smile means hope and connection!

What has the “Power of a Smile” done for you in your life?

It has broken barriers and given me the chance to get to know so many amazing people.

Blake Haugland: Turning Lug Nuts Into Smiles

In his own words Smile Train supporter, Blake Haugland explains what motivates him to fundraise for Smile Train.

No matter how you look at it, an athlete competing in a triathlon is competing for their own personal satisfaction and that’s a great thing, but race after race I started feeling like I wanted to cross the finish line for more than myself or a new “PR”. That’s when I found Smile Train. Knowing that I could use my triathlon races and connections in NASCAR to help change a child’s life was the perfect way for my wife Melissa and myself to do this.

Through my coaching business LIMITLESS MULTISPORT TRAINING I have been able to donate a percentage of my earnings toward our Smile Train goal which is awesome because it’s a way my athletes can help raise money and train! Another amazing tool I have been able to use has been offering lug nuts from our pit stops to race fans for a donation. We have thousands of fans who tour pit road prior to the race start and they are able to come by our pit stall and hang out and grab an authentic lug nut from the prior week’s race. In the past we used to literally leave these used lug nuts on the ground or they would get thrown in the trash but now they are being turned into smiles!

I know sometimes it can be financially difficult for people to donate money but if you can incorporate it into a purchase they are already planning on making you can hit a home run every time! I want to thank Michael Waltrip Racing and NASCAR for the opportunity to make these children have a better quality of life. See you at the track!
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