Miami Dolphins running back and Smile Train Ambassador Kenyan Drake, has spent his offseason raising funds and attending events for Smile Train. So, before his already-limited free time was consumed by the new NFL season, he wanted to see the fruit of his efforts in action and see a Smile Train local partner in-person. As Mexico City is an active area for Smile Train cleft treatment and the NFL’s popularity is growing tremendously in the area, it was a perfect fit and the necessary plans were made.
When Kenyan arrived in Mexico City, he received a guided tour of a local Smile Train partner. Kenyan was impressed that on top of free cleft surgeries, the hospital offered Smile Train patients year-round speech treatment, nutrition counseling, orthodontics, and psychotherapy care.
Next, Kenyan met with 13 former Smile Train patients and their families, and thanks to the translations of Smile Train Mexico staff, Kenyan was able to listen to the stories about each family’s journey to find Smile Train treatment. There were tears and big smiles on both sides of the conversation.
At a press conference later that day, Kenyan reflected on the time he’d spent with the former patients, “It’s heartbreaking that some of the children had to wait years for their Smile Train surgery. Some parents were unaware of Smile Train while others feared the surgery because of cultural stigma. That’s why I’m here — that’s why it’s important to visit and raise awareness. Clefts can be treated; you can get medical help.”
Then Kenyan put on his Smile Train scrubs; he had the opportunity to be in the room for a child’s cleft lip surgery. In less than an hour, the baby’s lip was treated at no cost to the family.
Before heading home, Kenyan visited Gamos Sports Club where he introduced Smile Train patients, partners, and supporters to American football. Kenyan started out slowly for the beginners, teaching football’s different positions and the rules of the game, but it wasn’t long before the children were running and catching the football all over the field — with giant smiles on their faces.
When reflecting on his four days in Mexico, Kenyan said, "The visit has been amazing. These children are surrounded by the support of friends, family, and Smile Train — they are going to be able to live happy and healthy lives. I feel very proud to be a Smile Train Ambassador — it's been a great experience, and I couldn’t have asked for more.”
If you would like to help Kenyan bring smiles to children around the world, donate to his personal fundraising page today.