CENTERVILLE, Utah – A 12-year-old Centerville boy is doing all he can to help kids in Guatemala get their chance to learn how to smile.
Jeffrey Linton, who was born with a unilateral cleft lip and palate, is organizing a fundraiser to help raise $100,000 that will help 400 kids learn to smile.
After nine surgeries, Jeffrey is smiling big and wants to share his experience with as many other kids as possible.
“My first surgery was when I was only 10 weeks old and it was just a lip adhesion,” said Jeffrey. “My cleft was wide enough that they thought it would help my muscles adjust to the repair if they did it in two stages. So although my lip was pulled together, I could still stick my tongue out above it. It looked like I was sticking my tongue out of my nose and I hear that everyone got a kick out of that.”
Jeffrey’s second surgery was at 6 months old and he said it was his most challenging one that year.
“I had a hard time recovering and my parents had a hard time knowing how much pain medication to give me,” said Jeffrey. “But I came out of it with a repaired lip. They fixed my soft palate at 9 months and put ear tubes in to drain all the fluid in my ears.”
At 3 years old doctors repaired Jeffrey’s hard palate and he spent years in speech therapy trying to make sounds that he said he couldn’t form until after that surgery.
“My parents could understand me but no one else could,” said Jeffrey. “Since those major surgeries, I have had a lip revision, 2 bone grafts, and braces. I have heard that kids with cleft lips and palates have many challenges like malnutrition, severe earaches or being bullied.”
Jeffrey said he has not faced some of the those problems, mainly because of all of the surgeries.
“I like to play basketball, soccer and the cello,” said Jeffrey. “I have great friends and great support from my family. I want to raise money for Hirsche Smiles to help kids get the necessary surgeries that they need.”
Jeffrey teamed up with Dr. Steven Warnock with Hirsche Smiles, a non-profit organization that goes to Guatemala once a year to operate on kids just like him.
All of the doctors and nurses who travel to Guatemala pay their own way so that 100% of donations go to the kids.
Holiday Oil has agreed to help Jeffrey raise money and they’ve organized to have a portion of every car wash sale on July 13 go toward Hirsche Smiles.
For those wanting to help you can purchase a car wash at any Holiday Oil on July 13. You can also make a direct donation at hirschesmiles.org/fundraising