Uniondale, N.Y. — On Thursday, January 16, Smile Train partnered with the New York Islanders for their home game versus the archrival New York Rangers, with the goal of raising funds and awareness for children with clefts around the world.
Fans were greeted by Smile Train staff and volunteers selling raffle tickets and commemorative rally towels as they entered the arena. This season, each home game at NYCB Live’s Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum features a 50/50 raffle hosted by the Islanders Children’s Foundation, with the proceeds split evenly between the night’s host charity and one lucky winner.
Just before the game began, Smile Train CEO Susannah Schaefer, a group of Smile Train student ambassadors from Sylvan Avenue Elementary School in Bayport, Long Island, and their teachers, Laurie James-Katz and Christine Monahan, dropped the ceremonial first puck. These exceptional students have raised over $30,000 for Smile Train since 2008.
“I’m so happy I got to help another kid,” said T.J., a Sylvan Avenue student. “I also can’t believe I got to meet my favorite player, Mathew Barzal!”
The packed crowd watched Smile Train videos on the Jumbotron during breaks in play, showing the impact of cleft treatment around the world. There were also several live shots of Smile Train community fundraising volunteers in the stands.
In the end, the night was a huge success, raising more than $12,500 for Smile Train — enough to provide cleft treatment for, and change the lives of, 50+ children!
The night was a continuation of the legacy of the late Charles B. Wang, Smile Train’s founder, and the Islanders’ former owner. His dedication to ensuring all children born with clefts receive the essential care they need to live healthy, productive lives 100% free was unmatched, and his presence at the game was felt by all who knew him.
“I could feel him smiling down on us,” said Schaefer. “I have no doubt he would be proud of the lifesaving cleft treatments we made possible last night as well as of the Islanders’ ongoing dedication to a cause that was so dear to him. I know he also would have been blown away by the Sylvan Avenue Elementary students’ passion and excitement for philanthropy. It truly was a memorable night for all involved.”