Creating Smiles, Improving Lives

Ready to go

By Susie Woodson

Austin Smiles is about to go on the road again. Today team members are gathering in Veracruz for the start of AS’s 79th mission outside the U.S. We’ll have four plastic surgeons but the entire crew amounts to almost 50 people to fill 10 different roles. The team will be arriving on 4 separate flights. On the first leg, 2 flights start in Austin and take team members to the Houston airport where they meet up with other Austin Smilers. Then 2 more flights out of Houston are needed to get everyone to Veracruz. The team also brings a mountain of crates filled with medicine and other supplies for the work to come. The logistics are monumental.

Of course after more than a quarter of a century running missions this is an organization that knows how to get the job done. Kendyl Richards runs the group with a plan that works and is a virtuoso improvisor when the unexpected happens.

Things change along the way. There’s been some fine-tuning here and there. We don’t wear our yellow Austin Smiles t-shirts these days when we travel. But I know at least one thing will be the same as always. We’ll get to meet amazing families. We’ll see joy, relief, and maybe sometimes a little tear when the parents see their children after surgery. It will be wonderful. I can’t wait.

1 in 700 children are born with a cleft lip or palate

$250 covers the cost of one life-changing surgery

150 volunteers annually will change a child’s life forever

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Medical Mission Trips

Austin Smiles goes on 2-3 medical mission trips annually

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Our Local Services

Our local program support for children born with Cleft Lip and Palate in Texas

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