Smile Train – A Worthy Cause – My Niece and Nephew Help Bring More Awareness

My nephew and niece, Brent and Brooke, were born with cleft palates. Now all grown up, they are raising money to go with the Smile Train organization to Peru in June.

Lynn Kelley, Smile Train

Brooke and Brent when they were children and now all grown up.

They’re working to bring more awareness to the issue of children born with cleft lips or paletes and the organization that does reconstructive surgery: Smile Train.

A Global Problem

“Globally, 1 in every 700 children is born with a cleft. While surgery can take as little as 45 minutes and costs as little as $250, it is out of reach for many in the developing world. Smile Train is an organization that provides these children with the surgeries they need!

Lynn Kelley, Smile Train

“Brent and Brooke Hanke are two siblings who were born with cleft paletes, but were fortunate enough to have them fixed as young children. Now almost 20 years later Brooke has just finished her Bachelors at Cal State Fullerton in Communication Disorders and is about to start her Masters at Cal State San Marcos, specializing in cleft and craniofacial abnormalities. As a family we have been donating to this organization for years.

“Now the time has come where Brent and Brooke want to take the next step towards awareness and understanding of the behind-the-scene journey that takes place to supply these deserving children of cleft reconstructive surgeries.

Lynn Kelley, Smile Train

“We are raising money to go with the Smile Train organization to Peru in June. On this journey we will be meeting with the children who we will be sponsoring to get their cleft lips or paletes reconstructed! We will be along for the whole ride. We will have the opportunity to learn about their history, scrub in on a surgery, and be with them post-operation!

“We will also be fortunate enough to meet with previous patients at their homes, who have recieved surgeries, and hear about their journey! We will meet with staff and surgeons from Smile Train to hear about their future plans of expansion.

“Thank you for reading about our story. If you are not in the place to donate, prayers are greatly appreciated as we embark on this journey!”

My Uncle Lee was born with a cleft lip. As a child, he was often teased. As an adult, he always wore a mustache. Reconstructive surgery has come a long way. I’m amazed at what these surgeons are doing.

I’ve got to give a huge shout out to Brent and Brooke for speaking out about a condition they were born with and now going forth to spread good news and make more people aware of this worthy cause.

To donate, go here.

What are your thoughts? Do you know anyone who was born with a cleft lip or palate? Do you think it’s amazing how Smile Train can correct some of these clefts for as little as $250 for reconstructive surgery? I’d love to hear from you!


Images courtesy of GDJ, Prawny – Pixabay




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12 Responses to Smile Train – A Worthy Cause – My Niece and Nephew Help Bring More Awareness

  1. My niece was born with a cleft palate and had hers fixed as an infant, too. It’s wonderful what doctors can do, especially these days. This is a great cause, and I know your niece and nephew will have a great time on their trip.

    • Oh wow, isn’t that something that your niece also had a cleft palate. I didn’t realize 1 in 700 babies are born with a cleft. It really is amazing what the doctors can do these days. We’re praying for a safe trip. Thanks, Carol!

  2. Patricia says:

    That’s awesome!! They are both adorable. And, obviously beautiful on the inside as well. Good for them for wanting to make a difference. It’s getting more and more rare to see young people focused and concerned about making a difference. Kudos to them.

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful story, Lynn.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  3. Pambelina says:

    It’s nice that you’re helping to bring attention to this worthy cause. As your two little sisters, me and Cindy, were born with cleft palates this is an issue that hits deeply. We were so blessed to have repair work done at 18 mo old, but not all children have that gift.

    • I think it’s remarkable that Brooke and Brent are sharing their personal history and have given you and Cindy a voice, too. Our family hasn’t talked about this much at all. It’s nothing to be ashamed of at all. You’re right about being blessed to have the repair work done when you were young. And then Cindy’s own kids being born with cleft palates. Only a mother who’s had a baby with this condition knows how hard it can be to ensure their babies get the nourishment they need since feeding is a problem. Thanks for sharing, Pambelina!

  4. Joanna Woods says:

    What a great organization. It’s great that they are involved. I also liked the two photos side by side.

    • I, too, think Smile Train is a great organization and wonderful that my niece and nephew are getting involved. I love the photos comparing the two of them when they were little and now as adults. Thanks for visiting, Joanna!

  5. Vanh says:

    This is so wonderful and thank your sharing Lynn. They both are very beautiful people with big hearts.

  6. Mally/Grandma/Mom says:

    I’m the mother that had two of her daughters, Pammy and Cindy born with cleft palates. I never heard of a cleft anything and it was all a shock. Back then they sent me home from the hospital with what was called, ” Ducky Nipples”. Very soft, shaped like a ducks
    beak, as it covered the opening in their mouth, then they could suck their milk? They both had their surgeries at 21 months. Finding someone to take care off my 4 other
    babies, was a challange! When Cindy had Brent, they didn’t have special nipples that worked for him, she had a tuff time! I don’t recall ever seeing a baby with so much pain
    in his baby blue eyes!! I have never forgotten those eyes, it broke my heart! I went and got a needle, sterilized it and put a big hole in the bottles nipple! He drank his milk and was happy!

    • Wow, thank you for sharing that, Mom. It’s crazy that they had the ducky nipples back in the late ’50s and early ’60s but then weren’t available when Cindy had Brent. Good thing you figured out a way for him to drink his bottle. Sheesh! I remember you talking about how much pain you saw in Baby Brent’s eyes. For a memory to leave that kind of impression on a grandmother says a lot.

      Imagine all the babies in developing countries who are having those same problems and their families are thrown for a loop because, like you, they had no idea what a cleft palate or cleft lip was. This is wonderful that Smile Train is bringing more awareness to the problem.

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