Motorcyclists join cause that benefits kids with birth defect
By Angel Carpenter
Blue Mountain Eagle
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Karen Westmoreland, Barb Northington and Nancy Crisler have all made multiple once-a-year trips to other countries, most recently the Philippines, to help children born with these birth defects, which affect the upper lip and roof of the mouth.
Last weekend, they got help for the cause from 30 motorcyclists. Westmoreland's husband Mike spearheaded an Aces for Faces Poker Run on October 2, 2011. They plan to make it an annual event.
Between the Poker Run entry fees and a silent auction with items donated by local businesses, the nurses have raised "enough money for 11 surgeries (a total of $2903)" said Westmoreland. "It was amazing" she said.
Last January, the three nurses spent a week in Bohol, Philippines, assisting doctors with the the surgeries which repaired the conditions that makes it difficult for the patients to eat and speak.
A total of 55 surgeries were done on children from infants to teens, but mostly under the age of eight. A multifaceted medical team did the work. In addition, two dentists helped children and adults with around 300 dental procedures, from pulling bad teeth to helping other children who were not candidates for surgery b making obturators (a mold like a retainer) to cover their cleft palate. Speech therapists also worked with patients on language exercises to do at home with their children.
Northington has volunteered with Faces of Tomorrow and a similar charitable group since 2000. She was part of a documentary in the Philippines that followed three children-an 8 year-old girl and her brothers, 2 and 5 - from one rural family, showing their journey to the city hospital for surgeries. Northington said she didn't think the children had ever ridden in a car before - she noted that many times parents will hide their children affected by the birth defect from society. "They were laughing and having so much fun" she said. On their way to the city, Northington said they stopped to eat at a restaurant where she saw how the children dealt with their conditions.. "They've learned to adapt," she said. "To drink, one would hold their nose so the soda didn't come out. "She added that the sister would help the youngest brother get back in his mouth when it fell out.
"They need the services, and they are overjoyed to see us come," she said. "We want to make them look good so they can interact with peers and in society, so they can function and they have a place in their community."
The 2011 trip was the third for Westmoreland; her first two trips were to Ecuador. She noted that the most memorable part for her is the looks in the moms' eyes. "They are just so grateful, and they can't believe that the children get the benefit of this," she said. " And it all comes from people willing to help."
Accomplishment: A volunteer medical team led by Rubinstein is one of 15 national recipients of Kaiser Permanente's 2011 David Lawrence Community Service Award.
Details: Rubinstein, chief for pediatric otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at Kaiser Permanente Roseville Medical Center, is the founder of Faces of Tomorrow, a Davis-based nonprofit organization that provides free surgeries to children and adults with facial deformities inEcuador and the Philippines.
Follow us on Facebook
17 year old Marvin Contiri came to our screening clinic in 2011 to have his bilateral cleft lip and cleft palate repaired and unfortunately we had to turn him away. He learned about the mission late and by the time he arrived our schedule was jam packed and we could not take any more patients. He returned in 2012 and this was his year.Read More: Marvin Contiri
During our 2011 mission to the Philippines we met 19 year old Aireen. Aireen has a severe cleft lip and palate. She also suffers from various neurological deficits leaving her severely delayed. She came to us with many family members as supporters. Our doctors examined her and as a team decided it would not be safe to operate on her because of unknown health risks.Read More: Aireen - A Promise Kept
11 year old Patrick "Captain America" touched the heart of every member of our team. He arrived at our clinic wearing a Captain America t-shirt and to our surprise speaking freely in English to our team. It was really special being able to communicate with him directly.Read More: Kyle Patrick - Captain America