In 2014, Louise and Mary Ann Sides (pictured left to right) started raising funds for Smile Train by selling homemade holiday ornaments to their family and friends. Amazingly, by the end of the holiday season, the sisters had raised enough to change the lives of 11 children by providing them with 100%-free cleft repair surgeries.
For their next fundraising effort, Louise and Mary Ann wanted to pair their love for creating smiles with their passion for ice skating — hence Skating for Smiles was born. The duo was worried that the funds they would raise and donate would be absorbed by the costs of holding the event. Their concerns were put to rest when the owners of Alpharetta, Georgia’s local skate center The Cooler generously donated both the time and event space free of cost.
High School Senior Louise enlisted her friends to raise funds around her school in advance of the event. Louise was blown away with her fellow students’ generosity. She found that many of the students were surprised that even small donations could have such a big impact in a child’s life, which inspired them to give.
At the event, 75 attendees alternated between the skating rink and the event hall, where they had the opportunity to purchase raffle tickets to win prizes donated by local businesses. Students from Mount Pisgah Christian School generously donated their time, helping younger children skate, selling raffle tickets, and accepting donations at the event. The event, coupled with an online fundraising page, raised enough to provide more than 32 new smiles to children in need.
Louise has since become a Smile Train Student Ambassador. Smile Train’s Student Ambassadors are a group of high school students who are passionate about making a difference. Made up of students from across the U.S., this new group allows students to expand their networks, learn about the global nonprofit sector, and support Smile Train’s programs. Together with her sister, she is planning another fundraiser in April 2018.
If you’d like to learn more about ways to help children with untreated clefts, including hosting an event or organizing a school fundraiser, please visit the Get Involved section. To learn more about Smile Train’s Student Ambassador program,visit our page. Your support can help children receive their new smiles and second chances at life.