13 Years, 440 Smiles | Celebrating Hot Lips Hustle

November 13, 2017 | Smile Train

Members of the Ernstes family, along with hundreds of volunteers, have held the Marietta, Georgia-based Hot Lips Hustle for the last thirteen years. Cumulatively, the annual 5k raised $110,000 and an immeasurable amount of awareness for the millions of children living with untreated clefts in the developing world. After an incredible run in 2017, the Ernstes family decided that this would be their last Hot Lips Hustle.

As the Ernstes family move on from the event which has been such a big part of their lives, they wanted to pass along the following:

In 2005, when our family had the notion to put on a 5K race to raise funds for Smile Train, we had no idea what we were doing — we had zero event planning, volunteer management, or fundraising experience between us. However, we figured it out and, with the help of an amazing support system, Hot Lips Hustle has enriched our lives ever since.

Hot Lips Hustle

Every year we encountered acts of generosity: volunteers staying up late and waking up before sunrise, local students making t-shirts, and complete strangers who would make large financial gifts out of the blue. We met other families whose children were born with a cleft — those connections were true bright spots. There are too many special memories to count as we reflect on the thirteen years of the race.

Smile Train fundraiser

This year, we made the difficult decision to hold our last Hot Lips Hustle. We felt that it was time to pass the torch to others in Smile Train’s fundraising community, and we look forward to finding new ways to give back in this next phase of life. We are very grateful to Smile Train for years of support and partnership — particularly for the impact we’ve made together on lives of the 440+ children who’ve received comprehensive cleft care.

Smile Train volunteers

We extend our gratitude to a fantastic group of family and friends, without whom these events would have not been possible. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the late nights, early mornings, and post-race Waffle House celebrations. It’s been a joy to work with you and we love you:

Dinger, Mike, Nancy, Bailey, John, Madison, Pam, Glenn, Kenny, Viviane, Helen, Sara, Tom, Dale, Alice, Bill, Jane, Stefan, Jerry, Kim, DJ Jeff, Patti, Steve, Tom J., Denise, Bev, Michelle, Randy, Jamie, Megann, Donna, Dave, Ed, Nancy R., Lisa, Mark, The Walker School, and Holy Trinity Lutheran Church


Smile Train staff and partners around the world thank everyone involved with Hot Lips Hustle for their years of hard work and support. We wish you all the best of luck — know that you’ve been an inspiration to us all.

If you’d like to learn more about how you can help children with untreated clefts, please visit our Get Involved section. Your support can help a child receive their new smile and a second chance at life.