All aboard the Smile Train
Like many people armed with the right attitude and plenty of determination, Brandon and Kerry Case, owners of Antique Prints in Ocean View, turned something unexpected into an opportunity.
When their second child, Max, was born with a cleft lip and palate in June 2006, they spent much of that first year focused on doctor appointments, surgeries and research, as well as caring for him and big sister Sadie. They then commemorated Max’s first birthday with a birthday/fundraiser to benefit SmileTrain, an organization that provides surgeries for children in need. And the party will continue this year.
The 2nd Annual SmileTrain Fundraiser and Luau will be held June 14 at the Refuge Pool and Patio Area in West Fenwick. The event will include a silent auction, pig roast and cocktails, and everyone is welcome.
About 1 in 700 children are born with a cleft lip and/or palate, and in some areas those statistics are 1 in 600. Brandon Case remarked that, in many of the societies where children are born with cleft lip and palate, they are banished from society or even given up for adoption.
Besides the emotional turmoil the children can go through because of their physical differences, there are physical aspects to the disorder that can make it difficult for them to eat, drink and talk.
“It’s a genetic disorder,” explained Kerry Case of cleft lip and palate, “and one of the most fixable.”
“We wanted to commemorate what he’s been through,” she said of starting the fundraiser/birthday party last year. “And we were fortunate that was the only thing we had to deal with.”
Brandon Case said their experience with Max was the start of something great.
“We felt privileged and wanted to give back,” he said.
Dr. Joseph Napoli from the A.I. DuPont Hospital was one of Max’s doctors, as were Dr. McCullough and Dr. Glick of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Dr. Napoli attended last year’s luau, too.
“Our doctor was awesome. He changed our lives, and we’ve actually become friends with him,” said Brandon Case.
A basic SmileTrain surgery for a child can cost as little as $250 and take as little as 45 minutes in the operating room, with doctors and nurses donating their time to the organization. In addition to providing the surgery, SmileTrain also offers free cleft-related medical training for doctors and other medical professionals.
Max Case has been through three surgeries now, totaling 35 hours. It was after the second surgery, Kerry Case said, that their good fortune and the need to give back really hit home, especially as the couple recognized the advantages they have living in a developed nation.
“I remember saying after one of Max’s surgeries about how tired I was and the doctor saying something along with lines of, ‘Just be grateful you don’t have to walk 20 miles, carrying the baby home.’”
Since March of 2000, SmileTrain has provided cleft surgery for more than 315,000 children in 75 of the poorest countries in the world.
“People have been amazing,” said Kerry Case. “They really step up when they know it’s for a good cause. A lot of local businesses have donated food. We have over 50 silent auction items. And last year, we raised just under $7,000.
“And you might be wondering why we picked SmileTrain,” she noted, referencing the better-known Operation Smile, which has a similar mission. “They are the underdog. With SmileTrain, all of the money goes to the surgery. All of the administrative costs and everything else is donated, so the whole $250 goes to surgery and supplies,” she explained.
Kerry and Brandon Case said they wanted to thank their parents, David, Lorraine and Robert, for their help, support and love, along with the many businesses and individuals that donated to the silent auction: Bethany Surf Shop, Casey Vosburg, Kool Bean Café, Nantucket’s, FinBar, Matteo’s, Beach Liquors, Harris Teeter, Carol Dyer, Aubre Duncan of Gallery on Central Avenue, Laura Hickman of Gallery on Central Avenue, Carolyn Blish and Amy Stewart of AMI Designs, Rooster’s Nest, Steve and Mary Jane Small, Ted and Donna VanName, Quinn and Emily McCulllough, Jodi Navin, Bethany Massage and Healing Art, Atlantic Body Works, Fake n Bake, The Med Spa, Freeze 24/7, Michelle Priola, Kathy Collins and Harris Jewelers. They also thanked Solstice Restaurant in Berlin, Cactus Café in West Fenwick, Island Café in Ocean City and Eastern Shore Poultry in Georgetown for their donations of food.
Also, as a way to honor her late mother, as well as add to the silent auction items, Kerry Case said limited edition giclée prints of some paintings by the late Martha Seamans — considered a great oil painter in her own right — will be donated to the auction by Antique Prints.
The second annual SmileTrain Fundraiser and Luau will be held at The Refuge’s pool and patio area in West Fenwick this Saturday, June 14, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. The dress code is “island wear.” In the event of rain, the luau will be held indoors, at 37457 Breezy Cove, West Fenwick.