Creating Smiles, Improving Lives

Safe Transport

Translator Cecelia Neuhaus next to Marine escort
Photo by Anneke Paterson


Our fearless leaders, pre-bus boarding

A group as large as ours (48 volunteers!) can present transportation nightmares, especially since the hospital was a considerable distance from the hotel. But each morning we were able to board clean new buses in 2 shifts, ignore traffic and enjoy the scenery on the way to work. We noticed after a few days that our buses were being followed by a jeep full of armed military men.  Veracruz is home to a Navy base and we   were provided with their services daily – we rode in their big gray Navy bus and were escorted by a jeep full of Marines.  Always vigilant, always friendly, our security guards not only eased any worries we may have had about safety, they also proved to be useful in other ways.  Take Wednesday morning February 12, when anesthesiologist Paula Rushing had the misfortune to rush out the front door one second late, only to see the bus pull away from the hotel.  She tried frantically to wave down the bus driver, to no avail (surely the bus occupants realized they couldn’t start the case without her!)  Fortunately the security guards in the jeeps were there to save the day.  They swooped our Paula up, rushed to catch up with the bus – in fact sped in front of our bus, forcing it to stop.  Those of us in the bus were slightly alarmed – why were we being stopped by this military vehicle??  Then out of the jeep popped Paula who boarded the bus amid hearty cheers.  Our heroes!

(This account may not be the way it really happened, but it’s the way I remember it)


Anesthesiologist Lee Woodson with our Navy driver

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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