Each year, about 5,000 babies are born with a cleft lip or palate. Without surgery, nine in 10 children with a cleft condition are at risk of dying, but many parents cannot afford surgery.
This past weekend, people from the Toledo community raced to raise money and give these children a reason to smile.
Going the Extra Smile 5K began at 10 a.m. Sept. 17 at the University of Toledo’s student Recreation Center and included free breakfast, snacks and water.
The event was hosted by the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association, a UT organization.
Lauren DeBelly, a fourth-year speech-language pathology major and event coordinator for NSSLHA, said $660 was raised during the event.
“By having this opportunity to plan an event that will change the lives of so many children across the world, I feel honored to be a part of it,” DeBelly said.
All proceeds go directly to Operation Smile, DeBelly said, a philanthropy that NSSLHA has supported for years.
Operation Smile, a non-profit organization, has been providing cleft lip and palate reconstructive surgeries for 35 years to children in third-world countries.
“This organization is important to us and our professional world because having a cleft lip and/or palate is, first and foremost, detrimental to the child’s feeding abilities with a secondary effect being on their articulation, a large part of what SLPs do,” DeBelly said.
Yasmina Ahmad, a fourth-year student in the SLP program and secretary of NSSLHA, said the event was important to her, especially as a prospective SLP.
“It’s a way that we, even as students, can have a global impact and serve a population that we may encounter as future clinicians,” Ahmad said.
Jacob Griffith, a fourth-year marketing and sales major, attended the event as a Coca-Cola campus ambassador.
“It was nice to see people come out at such an early time and run a 5K to help people they don’t know,” Griffith said.