Whenever we hear Eraserheads say “You’ll get by with a smile,” it almost feels like it’s super effortless for a normal person to make their day brighter with just a simple action. However, not everyone is blessed with the capability to fully smile. I’ve met people with clefts who are shy to show facial expressions because of how they look like (not to mention difficulty in breathing, hearing, or speaking that comes with it). While I believe that nothing should get in the way of anyone who wants to express their happiness, those with such genetic predisposition may think otherwise. This is why we support Smile Train Team EMPOWER, an endurance fundraising platform in their aim to lend a helping hand to kids with a cleft palate.
The said project is spearheaded by Smile Train, a cleft charity organization with teams all over the world. They continue to inspire individuals to create more smiles, new beginnings, and the opportunity for children with clefts to live full and productive lives. They partner with different organizations for their cause, such as Relife – which we’ve previously featured on our page.
SMILE TRAIN TEAM EMPOWER
Smile Train Team EMPOWER enables athletes to create an online fundraising page and encourage their friends and family to show support by donating to the cause. Smile Train Team EMPOWER currently has charity slots sold-out to marathons and multi-sport races, such as the London, Berlin, Chicago and New York City marathons and a number of IRONMAN® races around the world.
“As Smile Train celebrates its 20th year, we continue to recognize people who want to contribute their time and talent for a good cause,” said Kimmy Coseteng-Flaviano, Smile Train’s Area Director for South East Asia. “Smile Train Team EMPOWER is the perfect avenue for athletes to pursue their personal fitness goals while still creating a brighter future for babies born with clefts.”
In time for the upcoming World Marathon Majors in Berlin, Chicago, and New York City, Smile Train hosted a Team EMPOWER celebratory event for the athletes who have raised awareness and funds for Smile Train and children with clefts at The Rudy Project Lifestyle Store in Uptown Mall, Bonifacio Global City. Present at the event were founder and president of People Ignite and a cancer survivor, Joy Wong; Pound Fitness pro, Marge Camacho; triathlete coach, Coach Norman Pascual; and Joyette Jopson, triathlete coach and the First Filipino Finisher of the FWD 78° North Marathon. During the event, the athletes held an open discussion about the ins and outs of participating in a marathon and shared their own personal fitness tips.
“The cause is something that we’d love to spread through our races, through our voices right now. Being part of this team – Smile Train team…We would love to continue raising the awareness and talking about how amazing it feels to change kids’ lives forever,” shares Camacho.
HOW TO SUPPORT THE CAUSE
“Smile Train has slots available and usually, we start off by signing up, registering to the race that you choose (6 marathon majors or IRONMAN races abroad) and per race has a corresponding fundraising target. You have to sign for that, and depending on when you sign up, you have x amount of months – usually it’s a year… and just based on the panel here, I’m sure it will really take 2 months to raise funds for the target and when you continue to raise more funds, then the more surgeries you get [for the kids],” explains Camacho to members of the media during their celebratory event.
Smile Train Team EMPOWER member benefits include guaranteed entry to the race, a Team EMPOWER Tri Kit; customized virtual training plans, forums, and webinars; partner discounts and exclusive team events; personalized webpage and 1-1 fundraising support, and an opportunity to change a child’s life forever.
“In the Philippines, there is an estimate of 5,000 babies with clefts born every year. We are grateful for our Smile Train Team EMPOWER athletes who help us raise funds and awareness for children in need. Having their support helps us reach more patients all over the country,” concludes Coseteng-Flaviano.
If you’re not the athletic type, but you still want to help out, more details about how to donate are available at smiletrain.org. More information about their partner organizations are also available through their Facebook page at @SmileTrainPhilippines.
Fun fact: Miss Universe 2015 Pia Alonzo-Wurtzbach and Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray also assisted Smile Train during their reign. If they can, we can, too!