Making a Difference: University of Tampa student Katelyn Edwards strives to help people smile

6:00 PM, Jun 20, 2013   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- Katelyn Edwards, a junior at the University of Tampa, plans to bring smiles to many faces.

"It's very important not only to me but to the entire community," said Katelyn.

Inspired by a condition that afflicted her brother at birth, Katelyn strives to help impoverished children that are born with clefts, the opportunity to smile for the first time.

"Seeing he's been picked on because of his cleft. He's also struggled in reading and speech therapy, but because of that, it's made him a stronger person."

She's a volunteer for Smile Train, an international nonprofit organization that provides cleft surgeries for 125,000 impoverished children a year, completely free of charge.

"They'll train local surgeons to give the surgery. That way, rather than making it an in and out mission, it's building local infrastructure," said Katelyn.

In July, she will travel to Kumasi, Ghana to volunteer alongside a plastic surgeon. Her goal is to raise at minimum $4,000 for her Smile Initiative, covering travel costs as well as the cost of cleft surgeries for eight Ghanaian children.

"Along the way I'll be blogging for the Smile Train and journaling about my experiences."

For Katelyn, helping others smile is not as challenging, as it is for some of these children to smile.

"For my brother and I, the idea of being able to smile is such a blessing."

You can donate to Katelyn's Smile Initiative here: http://www.gofundme.com/theSmileInitiative.

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