Fundraiser proceeds will help bring smiles to children
The results of a recent fundraiser to benefit families who take their children to the Cleft-Craniofacial Center at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh-UPMC left the planners smiling, and will help bring smiles to more children in western Pennsylvania. "An Afternoon of Smiles and Sunshine," held on May 20 at The Red Fern in St. Marys, brought in funds to help children with cleft palates and other craniofacial conditions and their families with travel expenses and other associated costs while getting treatment. Amy Straub, chairperson of the event, said the fashion show and luncheon was a great success and raised more than they had hoped, especially for their first time out.“We had 80 people on the day of the event and made $8,420 to be donated to the cleft-craniofacial facial clinic at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh,” Straub said. “It was quite a success. Everybody liked the clothes.” The money raised through the fashion show/luncheon will be administered by the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation, the fundraising arm of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh-UPMC, and will be used to help families of children who receive care at the hospital’s Cleft-Craniofacial Center. Straub and her husband, Pete, established a fund named through the foundation named after their son, Adam, who was treated at the center for a cleft palate condition as an infant. “When Adam was born, he had a 10-millimeter gap. And he had the goofiest smile. And when we had the first surgery, they told us his smile would look different. He wouldn’t look like the same baby,” Straub said.“I miss that smile. I just got used to it [even though] I love his smile now because it’s perfect.”Straub said eight women served as models for the fashion show, which featured clothing from Ivan’s Men's Wear and Women's Apparel in St. Marys and a line called CAbi out of Pittsburgh. “Kevin O’Leary emceed for us; he did a great job reading the information he was given, and also added some of his own footnotes,” Straub said. “It went over well. Everybody was pleased to have something different in town to do. “We are hoping if we do this again next year, we can add kids’ clothes.”Straub lauded the efforts of her committee, comprised of Tricia Bauer; Straub's mother, Cheryl Rynd; Kim Sloff; Tara Vavala; and Tricia Wasko, as well as Goetz’s Flowers and Morning Glory Greenhouse, the clothiers, and all of the other businesses and community members who donated in some way. “I was overwhelmed by the generosity of the people in town, the businesses, the people who sent money in,” Straub said. “The event was May 20, and I just got the final total last Friday, and that was because every time they thought they could give me a total, they got more money in from individuals, and they finally just did a cutoff date as July 1. So if there are people sending any donations in afterwards, it will still go towards it, it just won’t be towards this benefit.“Everybody was just so supportive. And just the local businesses themselves that just donated $100 to sponsor a table for $100—we ended up getting 14 table sponsors—that was $1,400 to cover the cost overall.” According to Straub, cleft palates are the No. 1 birth defect in the United States.“It’s way more prevalent than people would imagine,” she said. Loving her own child’s smile both before and after his surgeries, Straub said she wanted to have the fundraiser to help bring smiles to the faces of other families and children who receive treatment at the center by alleviating some of their financial burden. “The plan is to have it [funds raised from the event] utilized to help families afford the costs of being there, of the traveling. They’ve developed a fund, the Adam’s Smile Foundation fund, that will help offset the costs for the family—to pay for a tank of gas, to pay for lunch, things that don’t get paid for,” Straub said. “Medicare and Medicaid, they do cover some of those costs, but you get reimbursed for it later, you don’t get it in the front, whereas if we can use this money so you get it in the front, ahead of time, you give them $80 so they can pay for a tank of gas depending on where they’re coming from.”Straub said often the repair of craniofacial issues requires multiple trips for surgeries and follow-up visits, which can be cost-prohibitive for families on a tight budget. She recalled the frequent trips she and her husband made to Pittsburgh for Adam’s treatment.