Auburn Family

Childrens' lives to be changed by "Smile Week"

A person's smile can light up a room but for those born with a cleft lip or palate, they may feel insecure about their smile.

A cleft lip is a physical split or separation of the two sides of the upper lip and a cleft palate is a split or opening in the roof of the mouth.

Auburn University’s Operation Smile Student Club, or OSSC, officers and members are committed to Operation Smile’s global mission of helping improve the lives of those children born with cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities throughout the world.

The organization's mission is to raise awareness and funds for Operation Smile in an effort to reach out to these children across the globe and provide them with free surgery.

With the help of the Auburn Family, OSSC can restore smiles, hope, dignity and positively change children's lives, forever.

Smile Week, that will take place Nov.  2-5, is OSSC's main fundraising week of the year.

The organization will host three benefit nights: Monday, Nov. 2 at Chipotle from 5-9 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 3 at Niffers from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Wednesday, Nov. 4 at Moe's Southwest Grill from 5-9 p.m.

"Each surgery costs $240," said Christopher Vought, OSSC member. "Our main goal is to raise as much money as we can to provide surgeries for those who cannot afford to pay for them. Smile Week is about giving selflessly so that children all over the world can have a fighting chance."

Smile Week will end on a high note, a concert at Loco's Grill featuring local Auburn artists, Hope Gulley, Andolyn Parrish, Seth Baker, Jessica Williams, Austin Cain, John Canada and East Glenn Band. Tickets are $5 and will be sold on the Haley Center concourse Oct. 28 and Nov. 4 and can be purchased at the door of the event.

Bethany Bradford, a fellow Auburn student and member of OSSC, has firsthand seen the difference Operation Smile can make in a person's life.

Bethany was born with a cleft lip and palate as well as a cleft hand.

The first year of her life was full of surgeries at Children's Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama.

At one month old, she had a Latham device implanted, which drew her palate closer together. She then had a lip surgery at four months old, palate surgery at seven months old and cleft hand surgery at 10 months old.

Bethany continued to have a series of surgeries from 1993-1998. Her surgical team consisted of Dr. Howard at Children's Hospital as well as other oral surgeons and several dentists.

The surgery process was longer for Bethany because her cleft was larger than usual.

"These surgeries really change your life because without even one I would look completely different or I could have even died without having them," said Bethany. "Realizing that makes you very grateful for everything in life."

Throughout her first year, Bethany and her family made trips to Birmingham at least once every two weeks, a four hour round-trip drive for her parents.

"I have been through a lot but one thing my experience has taught me is that everything happens to us makes us into who we are," said Bethany.

Operation Smiles gives children like Bethany a reason to smile every day. It gives them the courage to chase their dreams and not hide behind a deformation they are born with.

"Operation Smile is an incredible organization," said Hannah Cox, OSSC president. "It is amazing to be a part of something where everyone comes together, from different parts of the world, to do one thing, to give a child a chance at a new beginning and a chance to live life to the fullest. I truly believe we are changing lives one smile at a time."

For more information about Smile Week and OSSC contact Hannah Cox.

Pictures/ Bethany Bradford and Jessica Shaver Photography.

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