With a worldwide prevalence of approximately 1/2/1,000 live births, cleft lip and palate are the most common craniofacial birth defects. It remains a prominent health issue in both developed and developing countries alike. While the cause is not known, evidence suggests there is an interplay of genetic and environmental factors.
For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a nurse. Growing up in a family of healthcare providers, you could say it was in my blood! While pursuing this dream, I was given the incredible opportunity to travel to Haiti with LEAP for the first time in 2014. I was blessed to get to assist in the Recovery Room with very talented nurses who were helpful teachers and extremely knowledgeable in their field.
On the second day of surgery, I met a sweet baby named Rosmika. She had been operated on by Dr. Hobar to repair her cleft lip. When she started to wake up from the anesthesia, she was groggy and crying because of the discomfort she was experiencing. As I watched, her eyes began opening and locked with my own for what seemed like hours. It felt like the world just stopped moving. All of the hustle and bustle of my busy life came to a sudden halt. In this moment, I was able to experience Our Father’s deep, deep love for ALL of His children in a completely different way than I had ever experienced. This sweet baby touched my heart, and I continued to pray for her and her precious mother.
A year later, I returned to Haiti, along with another incredible team. As we pulled up to the hospital for the first day’s evaluations, I caught a glimpse of who I thought might just be Rosmika. I got out of the truck and made my way to see the sweet little angel who had touched my heart the previous year. As I approached her I said, “Hi, Rosmika, you look so beautiful.” Her mother stood up with a smile and gave me a huge hug. My heart melted. It was her! At this evaluation, Rosmika was here for her cleft palate repair. Let me just tell you, she looked incredibly beautiful! To be able to physically see the complete healing of her lip, beautiful growth and noticeable development was absolutely wonderful. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to travel with LEAP. I truly believe that this organization is changing the world!
“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” – Acts 20:35
by Maddie Pierce, LEAP Medical Supplies Coordinator (pictured left with Lori Worsham)
Two of our medical team members in Belize this year, Michele Drucker (left) and Brigitte Willis (right), are seasoned LEAP’ers who are very familiar with Orange Walk Regional Hospital. These sisters have traveled to Belize with LEAP on eight different occasions! Michele, a recovery nurse here in Dallas, and Brigitte, a Respiratory Therapist who now lives in Chicago, have committed to spend time each year volunteering their skills to help children in need. Fortunately for LEAP, Belize has been able to benefit from their dedication and heart to serve.
Thank you ladies, for blessing so many and being servant leaders of LEAP’s mission. We look forward to having you join us in Belize for many years to come!
“Jimmy and I have reflected on this past weekend and come to the conclusion that the LEAP trip to Belize was the ‘purest’ form of a team that we have ever been a part of. There was a clear sense of mission and measurable and defined end goal. There were no egos among the team, no personal agendas, everyone pulled their weight, and it was a beautiful thing to behold. The trip was an example of how teamwork should look like, and each part of the ‘body of Christ’ can perform their unique function to create a work honoring the Lord.
“We were humbled by the people of Belize and their gratitude for medical care but also by the many skilled professionals who donated their time and talents to serve others. It was a pleasure to serve alongside everyone on the trip, and we were blessed by it.”
Six years ago, while on one of his annual trips to Belize with the LEAP Foundation, Dr. Grant Gilliland evaluated a little eight-month-old girl who had something wrong with one of her eyes. Suspecting a potential serious problem, he ordered a CT scan through the hospital and discovered that little Cariel had a retinoblastoma. Dr. Gilliland immediately scheduled surgery to remove the life-threatening tumor from behind her eye, enucleated her eye, and then replaced it with a prosthetic.
Cariel is now a beautiful six-year-old who returns each year for follow up with Dr. Gilliland since there is a risk of the same type of tumor occurring in her other eye. She and her family also love to come visit LEAP and the doctors and nurses who have cared for them over the years. This year, Dr. Gilliland not only evaluated Cariel under sedation, as he does annually, but also her baby brother since there is often a hereditary component to retinoblastoma. LEAP will continue to follow the Estada family and make sure they receive any future care that is needed. These two beautiful children of God are a part of our LEAP extended family in Belize!
We are incredibly excited about the LEAP Fore Kids 2nd Annual Jr. Golf Tournament, which is TOMORROW at Brookhaven Country Club! Last year, this golf tournament was a tremendous amount of fun for everyone. This year will be just as much fun with 33 registered junior golfers, ages 6-18 years, signed up to play 9 holes. There will be trophies, raffles, a pool party, a great food buffet, t-shirts, prizes, goodie bags, and much more!
Due to the recent rainy weather, Brookhaven Country Club has asked that we have a later shotgun start to begin at 3:30pm. Please plan to arrive between 2:15 – 2:30pm. If you would like to practice on the driving range to warm up, arrive sooner to start at 2:00pm.
The weather is expected to be beautiful with plenty of sun expected! The pool is open to registered golfers until 8:00pm. There will be lifeguards on duty at the pool.
Thank you to ALL of our junior golfers for participating in this wonderful event. We are so blessed to have so many wonderful kids helping other kids across the globe who have a great need for free craniofacial reconstructive surgical care. You are AWESOME!
We are so happy to share exciting updates about Landmark recipient, Danny from China, who has continued to be hosted by our incredible LEAP family, Brittan and Martin Rojas. The best news, Danny has found a forever family who have already received preliminary approval to adopt Danny! We will provide more information on this later, but we are so happy this remarkable family wants our sweet Danny to be a part of their wonderful family.
We also have another surgery date for Danny, which will be his third surgery to place his prosthetic eye and complete additional ocular plastic surgery by Dr. Grant Gilliland. The surgery will be on Friday, June 5th at Medical City Children’s Hospital, the day after Danny completes his first year in an American school! Danny has learned a large vocabulary of English, and he has adapted well to a new culture all due to the loving Rojas family, who have loved and cared for Danny over the past several months like one of their own children.
Please contact Ashley at firstname.lastname@example.org or (972) 566-6550 to be a part of Danny’s story. If you would like to be with the family during Danny’s surgery, help with gift cards, food, etc., please contact the LEAP Office.