Jimmy and Kelli Pastorelli provided their youngest daughter Ella with her cleft lip surgery when she was just four months old. Soon after, the couple learned that millions of parents in the very same situation were unable to afford the simple surgery for their own children — they imagined the heartache and helplessness that these parents must feel, and they decided to do something to help.
Since that time, the Pastorelli family has held an annual Smile Train fundraising event called Ella’s Lemonade Stand, raising enough funds over the years to provide 580+ cleft surgeries.
This year, Jimmy and Kelli wanted to do something special for Ella’s 10th birthday, which would also be the family’s 10th annual fundraiser. They decided to forego the lemonade stand in favor of holding a gala at the historic Long Island estate, Oheka Castle.
The gala started with an impressive selection of raffle items that guests had the opportunity to win. All of the prizes were generously donated by local businesses.
Next, the attendees sat down to a formal dinner where Smile Train CEO Susannah Schaefer presented the family with photographs of a plaque placed in their honor at The Craniofacial Foundation of the Philippines.
After the presentations concluded, the birthday celebration began. Guests enjoyed the stylings of The JK Band on a busy dance floor, and, best of all, a giant birthday cake for Ella. By the end of the night, the gala raised an incredible 372 Smiles, pushing their grand total as a family to 952 smiles.
Smile Train’s Senior Manager of Community Fundraising Caitlin Roarke commented, “On behalf of everyone at Smile Train, we would like to thank the entire Pastorelli family and everyone who supported this year’s gala. The Pastorelli family has supported nearly 1,000 children to receive the care they need by pulling together their close-knit community for ten years now — they are the ultimate Smile Makers.”
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.